Tony Gillan: The best football is played by the Premier League winners

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane (centre) and Toby Alderweireld (right).
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane (centre) and Toby Alderweireld (right).
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All civilised people wanted Chelsea to lose their FA Cup semi-final and will now cheer Arsenal in the final.

Still, it would be churlish to deny what a fine game of football Chelsea and Tottenham produced on Saturday.

The one good thing about the result is that it may just stem the yap we are, yet again, subjected to about Tottenham Hotspur.

They do play attractive footy and have, in Dele Alli, the best English footballer there is at the moment (we shall ignore his less admirable traits for now).

Then there is Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen and one or two others who may even make Sunderland’s bench one day if they keep their noses clean. This is the best Tottenham side I can remember.

The problem (aside of their best players tending to move to big clubs) is that this still does not make them anywhere close to being as good as we are led to believe.

We never have to wait long to hear someone waffling about Spurs playing the best football in the Premier League. But, quite simply, they don’t. Regrettably that compliment belongs to Chelsea. Last season it belonged to Leicester.

You see, this isn’t figure skating. We don’t judge by “technical merit” or “artistic impression.” The league table does all the judging for us. Always has. Always will.

The best football is played by the league winners. Spurs have played England’s best football in just two seasons ever; the most recent being 56 years ago.

“Best” and “most exciting” are not interchangeable terms, but we can see why Tottenham would have us think otherwise. It camouflages them not being anywhere near as historically big a deal as is commonly thought.

They have won two titles. Manchester United have won 20, Arsenal 13, Sunderland six, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle four each.

Leeds, Wolves, Huddersfield and Blackburn are also ahead. Derby, Portsmouth and Burnley are level.

All my life Spurs have been “on the verge” of doing something truly great – and then failed to do so.

True, they have won a fair few knock-out competitions, but the league has always been the true test of quality; unless you think that Sunderland’s 1992 cup final appearance made them the second best team in England that year.

Be assured: it didn’t. But mention of that Sunderland-Liverpool game of 25 years ago brings us to another, quite amusing Tottenham-related fact.

They have not reached an FA Cup final as recently as Malcolm Crosby’s Sunderland. Or Newcastle, or Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Crystal Palace, Hull, Wigan, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Stoke, West Ham, Millwall, Southampton...