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Why Tottenham fans would be happy to see their team lose to Man City

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The final week of the
2023/24 Premier League

campaign can put fans in awkward positions regarding whether they actually want their team to win.

The latest case was
when Manchester United faced Arsenal

on the season’s penultimate weekend. United’s local rivals, Manchester City, are battling the Gunners in the title race and if the Red Devils had beaten Mikel Arteta’s men, they would have effectively handed City a fourth consecutive title, a feat that is yet to be accomplished in the Premier League era.

It turned out United were not good enough as they lost 1-0 at Old Trafford, ensuring the title race would be decided on the final day of the season (May 19).

The Sporting News takes a look at how this scenario is going to be repeated as Tottenham Hotspur face Man City on Tuesday night in a game that has huge implications in the title race — so much so, in fact, that some Spurs fans would quite like their team to lose.

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It’s worth pointing out that not all Spurs fans want their team to be beaten on Tuesday night, but a large majority on social media are expressing their desire for Ange Postecoglou to play a weakened side in the hopes of seeing defeat.

Accounts on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and other platforms by no means represent the same opinions as matchgoers, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that Spurs supporters who attend the game would rather see their side beat City on Tuesday.

Basically, it all comes down to how much Spurs fans can tolerate watching Arsenal win the Premier League title.

Those who want their side to lose are in a similar situation to those United supporters mentioned above. If Spurs were to be beaten by Guardiola’s men on Tuesday, City would head into the final game of the season with a two-point advantage over the Gunners, almost definitely ruining Arsenal’s chances of winning the league.

The one caveat to this is Spurs can still mathematically qualify for the Champions League if Aston Villa lose to both Liverpool and Crystal Palace, while they’re not yet guaranteed a Europa League spot, either. Results are therefore still important to Postecoglou and his players.

MORE: The best and tightest Premier League title races ever

This kind of talk has also reached the players as Arsenal centre-back, William Saliba, was asked if he would be supporting their North London rivals against City.

“I think all the team will be Tottenham fans on Tuesday,” he said following Arsenal’s win over United. “Let’s pray for Tuesday. I hope it will be a good week for us and we will see. We did our job today. We have another job next week and let’s see what happens.”

The France international was then made aware that Spurs fans may want their own team to lose so that he and his teammates suffer another title loss to City. He was asked if, as a professional, that could creep into Spurs players’ minds.

“No, I don’t think so, because they want to play in the Champions League next season,” he replied. “I think they will try to win. I know their fans don’t want them to win against City, but they are good competitors, so I think they will try their best to win against City.

“We know that Tottenham is a very good team. Our first game and second game with them was not easy. I hope they will be at their best on Tuesday.”

Saliba’s post-match interview didn’t quite reach the legendary heights of Kevin Keegan’s infamous rant towards Sir Alex Ferguson in 1996. However, it is a reminder that mind games are still a tactic used by desperate teams at desperate times in a title race.

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