First we had Jordan Spieth at the Masters. The epic fail there was the second shot in the water at the 12th hole. The first shot in the water was bad but not decisive. The second shot in the water was both decisive and bad shot for a 20-handicapper. Now we have Tottenham Hotspurs (Spurs) in the British Premier League (BPL). They weren’t playing to win but for second and third. They were playing to finish ahead of Arsenal for the first time in 21 years. A couple of weeks ago when it seemed a sure thing we were watching a Spurs game and the announcer said: “Don’t underestimate the importance of the Spurs finishing ahead of Arsenal.” It has been a one-sided rivalry in North London over the past two decades. Several times Arsenal has kept the Spurs out of the lucrative Champions League. We have a friend who is a Spurs fan. He records all the Arsenal matches but only watches if they lose. Spurs fans hate Arsenal.
It was an epic fail because of the rivalry and the way the Spurs went about it. After 34 games the Spurs had 68 points or were averaging two a game. After the same 34 games Arsenal had 63 points or five points less with four games (and 12 points) to play. Arsenal played a little better earning eight points of the final twelve (averaging two a game) to finish with 71. Spurs were much worse earning only two points in the last four games (out of a possible twelve points) and losing the last two games. In the penultimate game they lost at home to the eventual fifth place team. Losing at home even to a competitive team is a weak result but it wasn’t decisive and it is not an epic fail. It was akin to the first shot in the water at 12. In the last game, however, they played Newcastle United, a team that had already been relegated. To be fair, it was at Newcastle. Briefly, relegation means when you finish in the bottom three of a league (there are 20 in the BPL) you are sent to a lower league. The Spurs were battling for second.
The game at Newcastle started poorly for the Spurs. They were down 2-0 but clawed back to 2-1. Then midway through the second half with the score still 2-1, a Newcastle player saw a red card meaning that Newcastle would be a man short for the substantial part of the game remaining.
Sidebar: Players are often said to get or receive a red card or yellow card. It is better to say they see such a card. When our children played soccer we were disappointed to find out that they did not get to keep the card.
One more goal would be a tie and that would be enough because the Spurs held the goal differential tie-breaker. Instead, Newcastle scored three goals a man down and won 5-1. Arsenal won their game and the hex continued. All the Spurs had to do was beat a poor team that was a man short. Losing but three instead makes it an epic fail.