There will be no May Wembley visit for Tottenham (not this year at least) and the crucial thing for Mauricio Pochettino’s men now is to focus on the Premier League and ensure that they finish second as an absolute minimum.
It was a tough game at Wembley, and a loss to a Chelsea side who were inferior on the day will have been immensely difficult to take for this young Tottenham side.
Most would agree that Spurs were the better side, but when all’s said and done that counts for nought – the only stat that matters is the one on the scoreboard, and Chelsea came out on top.
The concern now for Spurs fans will be the potential for a repeat of past seasons, where a bad result effectively unravels their entire season.
It happened last year, as Spurs ceded the title to Leicester City after drawing 2-2 at Stamford Bridge and then went on to lose embarrassingly to Newcastle on the final day of the season and finish behind Arsenal, despite having been out of sight just a few short weeks earlier.
It happened in Harry Redknapp’s final season in charge, when ‘Arry’s boys blew a 12-point cushion against their North London rivals, finished fourth and didn’t even get into the Champions League by virtue of the fact that Chelsea had won the entire competition and taken the fourth English spot.
It cannot – under any circumstances – happen again.
Spurs sit four points behind Chelsea at the time of writing, and a full five points ahead of Liverpool in third.
Nothing below second is acceptable.
In truth, Spurs have still got a great chance of winning the whole thing.
Their run-in might be harder than Chelsea, but they’re still in good form, scoring two great goals against the league leaders in a high-pressure game.
But even if the league is beyond them, as many suspect that it is, second should be the very minimum.
Finishing above Arsenal and becoming the only team to finish in the top three in both of the last two seasons would be an achievement, and the very worst thing that could happen to Spurs now would be a capitulation which landed them in third (or worse).
Pochettino must take responsibility for presiding over the collapse last year. He did not adequately keep the team motivated once the title was gone.
This year he must work harder.
His side have received numerous plaudits this year, and so has he, but those are all just empty words unless the Argentine and his team can finish the season in the swashbuckling style they’ve played the rest of it.