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Eric Dier believes Tottenham stand no hope of losing their choker tag – even if they avoid a catastrophic last-day slip-up at Norwich.
The North Londoners, who hold a two-point lead over Arsenal in the Premier League top four race, are infamous for blowing it when appearing to have glory in their grasp. Indeed, it has happened so many times during the last 20 years, it is now known as ‘ Spursy’ to fall at the final hurdle.
Dier is clearly weary of the jibe but accepts it is something punters and pundits alike love to batter his club with – at every conceivable opportunity.
Hence, he reckons that should Antonio Conte’s troops silence the snipers this afternoon by securing Champions League qualification, the respite from the mickey-takers will be temporary only.
The Tottenham central defender declared: “I see other teams go through situations but there isn’t a word for them. Yeah, we can shake it off on Sunday and then next year, we will have a result and it will be back. In the last six or seven years, the time I’ve been here, we’ve had incredible highs where the club has never been before. And then two days later that (Spursy) will come back after a certain result. It will always be there.”
Dier, 28, may have a point but then history indicates a different slant. The root of the ‘ S’ word being synonymous in N17 stretches way back to the conclusion of the 2005-06 season and ‘ Lasagne-gate’. Struck down by food poisoning, sickly Tottenham crashed at West Ham, allowing Arsene Wenger’s Gunners to snatch Champions League football instead. The idea that might happen again, with a Spurs’ defeat at Carrow Road allied to a home win for Mikel Arteta ’s men over Everton, is not a palatable one for Dier.
And the England man insists the many knocks suffered along the way since then, particularly in the past two campaigns, have strengthened the character and resolve inside the camp. Throw in an elite super-coach in Conte at the helm and the present Spurs crop no longer have a soft centre. Or, put another way, says Dier, they know how to recover from seemingly terminal setbacks.
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“I remember last season, we drew at Palace and it felt like the end of the world,” he recalled. “That’s something, as a group of players, we spoke about this season. “I think we learned from that, where results felt like the end of the world and looking at the table was scary. You try to maintain an emotional consistency, not get too down in those moments because things change. You have to believe they will because they do in the Premier League more than any other.
“That’s something we’ve improved, keeping at it, getting through it – and you find yourselves in the position we are now.” A timely skill to develop given how often of late the North London rivals have swapped pole position in the race for fourth. First Arsenal were nailed on to take it Then Spurs. Then Arsenal again – before the current scenario where anything but a loss to the basement boys is sufficient for Spurs. Dier added: “In the space of ten games there’ve been three swings back and forth. As I say, consistency is the important thing.”
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