One of the worst feelings in football is having to rely on another team doing you a favour in a game you’re not involved in. That’s exactly what we need from Newcastle this weekend as our nervous battle for a Champions League place reaches its conclusion. Tottenham have what is arguably the easier fixture on paper as they face Sunderland at White Hart Lane, while bitter rivals Arsenal travel to the Sports Direct Arena to take on Newcastle. Should both London sides manage to secure three points in their respective games, it will be Arsenal and not Tottenham competing in the 2013/14 Champions League.
The bookmakers have Spurs as the strong 3/10 favourites for their match against Sunderland. Arsenal are put in at a best price of 4/7. If you’re having a bet this weekend, you can check out available odds at Topbet.eu. Everything points to both of the Champions League hopefuls getting the job done against their Northern opponents, with both Sunderland and Newcastle having nothing to play for after they managed to avoid the dreaded relegation zone. Arsenal are long odds on favourites to take this season’s final Champions League spot and only the brave will be backing Spurs as things stand.
Following the unfair way in which Tottenham Hotspur missed out on Europe’s elite competition last season, it would be awful for Andre Villas-Boas side if they one against end up in the Europa League. The financial implications are one thing, Gareth Bale moving on is another and possibly most important of all, Spurs qualifying would mean Arsenal do not! In a way, Tottenham only have themselves to blame. A top four finish looked to be in the bag following the excellent 2-1 victory over the Gunners back in March, but poor results since, particularly at home, mean that Arsenal fans are more the more likely to be bragging come Sunday evening. I’ll live in hope until just before 6pm that day, but confident I am not.
One of the biggest games in Tottenham’s season this Saturday as Southampton visit White Hart Lane. With the Saints now looking safe from relegation, all the pressure is one the home side to secure the three points and make the most of their game in hand over Arsenal. The Gunners could only manage a draw against Manchester United this past Sunday and although that would have been a good result in normal circumstances, neither side can afford to be dropping points at home.
Spurs go into the match with Southampton on the back of a fairly positive result after gaining a point away to Wigan. Andre Villas-Boas side should arguably have won that match when you look at the league table, but Wigan are fighting for their Premier League lives at the moment and will be very difficult to beat for the remainder of the campaign. Southampton arrive in London off the back of one of their worst defeats of their season, a 3-0 home reverse at the hands of West Brom. Spurs fans will be hoping that their opponents this weekend already have one eye on their summer holidays and that the Lillywhites can take full advantage.
Although Spurs have had their injury list eased somewhat in recent weeks, they do have a couple of fresh concerns following last weekend, with both Mousa Dembele and Younes Kaboul picking up knocks. The Tottenham manager is hopeful that both players can be involved in this Saturday’s all important clash. Danny Fox and Gaston Ramirez are both suspended for the remainder of Southampton’s games this season and will be a big miss for the South Coast club.
Bookies seem to be strongly favoring Spurs at the minute, with odds at $1.44 – (£.95) at time of writing (TAB). It’s understandable that Spurs have been been in as favourites, but I personally don’t think it will be as straightforward as the bookmakers believe. Tottenham have struggled at home at times during Villas-Boas first year in charge and they have often looked more relaxed and clinical on the road. I’m hopeful that Bale and co can run out winners and I fancy a hard fought 2-1 victory for Spurs.
After a campaign of both joy and despair, it has come to this. Spurs are within touching distance of an automatic Champions League spot and although I would have been devastated by the prospect had you told me this is where would would end up back in January, it is only thanks to a resurgence in the last few games that we have any chance of playing against Europe’s elite next season. Following a run which saw Tottenham win just one league game in nine, the players have shown a lot of spirit to take seven points from a possible nine in the last three fixtures.
Just two points separate Arsenal in third place and Newcastle in fifth, with Tottenham sandwiched in between. Any two of the three sides can still fill the remaining two Champions League places depending one how results go on Sunday and on paper at least, Spurs would appear to have the strongest claims. Ignoring the fact that Chelsea winning this season’s Champions League final could throw a spanner in the works, it is third place that is all important as it will guarantee automatic progress into the Champions League group stages.
Although I hate to say it, credit must go to both Arsenal and Newcastle for the form they have shown in the latter part of the season. It had looked as though both sides had lost their chance of a top four finish but they managed to close the huge gap Spurs had built up in the early part of the campaign to set up this dramatic climax. Newcastle have arguably the toughest task come the weekend with an away game against Everton, but neither a trip to West Brom for the Gunners nor a home clash with an in form Fulham side for Spurs, are going to be easy.
If Chelsea do manage to beat Bayern Munich, then the team finishing in fourth spot in the Premier League will go into the Europa League rather than Champions League. So basically, Spurs need to win and hope that Arsenal don’t to secure third place. Personally, I think Arsenal will likely draw at the Hawthorns, Newcastle will get something from their game at Everton and Spurs should be able to beat Fulham at the Lane, but who knows! There are bound to be a number of twists and turns on Sunday but hopefully, the football Gods will be on Tottenham’s side this once…
The ten point advantage Tottenham currently have over Arsenal in the Premier League would have been unthinkable just a couple of seasons ago. Although Arsenal fans were calling for Arsene Wenger’s head after a bad start to the season, things seemed to have settled down on that front with the good run of form they put together following the 2-1 defeat the Gunners suffered at White Hart Lane. Now reality has finally set in, Wenger’s management skills are once again being called into question by their supporters.
In stark contrast, Harry Redknapp’s reputation continues to thrive not only among Spurs fans, but also football enthusiasts around the globe. Bringing Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor to the club this season only added to what was already an excellent squad of players. Not only have Harry’s player purchases been very astute, he has also helped Gareth Bale become one of the best footballers in the world. He is able to instil a belief in players that Wenger cannot. Another great example of this is Benoit Assou-Ekotto. He was going nowhere fast at Tottenham but Redknapp spotted his potential and gave the former Lens man a chance. Ekotto is now one of the very best left backs the Premier League has to offer.
While the 5-1 cup victory in 2008 was a sign of things to come, the day when the power really shifted in North London was 20th November 2010. Spurs had not won at Arsenal for 17 years. Going 2-0 down before half time would have seen Tottenham sides of old throw the towel in, but this set of players were not prepared to lie down. Winning the game in such a manner gave Spurs a new found confidence and helped enforce the never say die attitude that has seen us become serious title contenders this season.
There are a couple of games during this campaign that really illustrate the difference between the two teams perfectly. Both were defeats, our 2-1 reverse away to Stoke, and Arsenal’s 3-2 loss at Swansea. Admittedly, the game at the Liberty Stadium was very entertaining and all credit to Swansea for playing some great football, but a number of the Arsenal players on that pitch looked like they did not want to be there. It ultimately ended with the man Arsenal fans were hailing as the King a few days earlier, a 34 year old Thierry Henry, turning on them for venting their frustrations.
At Stoke, Spurs were not at their best in the first half. Any team two goals behind at the Britannia Stadium would probably have resigned themselves to defeat. In the end, it was only one of the worst refereeing performances in Premier League history that cost us all three points. Every Spurs player gave their all in that second half to try and get something from the game and even though we lost the match, it is possibly my favourite Tottenham performance of the season. It goes a long way to showing why Tottenham are now the dominant team in North London and why you’d better mind that gap.
So, the dream has become a reality and Spurs have made it to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. After being three nil down against those pesky Young Boys in the first qualifying round, Harry Redknapp and his European soldiers are now just four games away from the final of Europe’s biggest football competition.
While the away leg at the San Siro was an assured professional performance the likes I haven’t seen from a Tottenham side before, Wednesday’s home game was an uncomfortable ninety minutes where our players dug in, defended well and secured their passage into the last eight.
Jermain Defoe’s big talk at the start of the season about Tottenham progressing further than the Gunners in the Champions League no longer sounds so stupid. The question now is can they fare any better than Arsenal against the Catalan Giants? Should we draw them in the quarter finals, I won’t be too despondent. While I think it will be a near impossible task over two legs against Barca, anything is possible in football. We have the players to hit them on the break with better effect than Arsenal could manage. Lennon and Bale give us an outlet that Arsenal didn’t have.
While avoiding Barcelona in the next round would be preferable, no side left in the competition is going to be an easy touch. Admittedly Milan aren’t as good as they once were but they are no mugs. Spurs have proven they can mix it with the best sides in European football and appear to have the confidence to take on any team. Our league form may have suffered a little as the results against Blackpool and Wolves illustrate but I’m willing to swallow it if it means this European adventure can continue for a bit longer…
I’ll be on Ian Wright’s show on Absolute Radio sometime between five and six tomorrow if anyone wants to hear me talk more nonsense about Spurs!
For the best part of two weeks, every Arsenal fan I know has been very keen to tell me that Joe Cole has agreed a deal to join the Gunners. I did find it slightly hard to believe, I just couldn’t see him wanting to go there. Not solely for footballing reasons but I just can’t imagine him fitting in very well there. He strikes me as a guy who needs to have a laugh and a bit of banter and I don’t think Wenger and co are going to provide any of that. Maybe now he’s got a kid he’s his thinking is different but I can see no reason why he’d want to go there rather than come and work with familiar faces at Tottenham.
When Harry Redknapp said last week it looked like Cole had already agreed a deal with a club, I started to think that maybe the Arsenal rumours were true. The fact Redknapp has done a U-Turn in the last couple of days and declared his interest in signing the Chelsea and England star makes things very different. Something must have happened to make Redknapp change his position so dramatically. Last week he basically said there was no chance, he’d been told Cole was off the market but now he’s made his intentions very clear.
The only negative I can see from Cole’s point of view where a move to Spurs is concerned is the fact we still have to qualify for the Champions League proper. Also, the fact we aren’t Champions League regulars and it’s going to be no easy task to repeat the feat next season would mean his contract would likely contain a lot of conditions, but I don’t really see any problem with that. Being one of the most desirable free agents in recent years, his wage demands will be huge but there are ways around this with signing on fees, bonuses etc so we wouldn’t necessarily have to destroy our wage structure!
A good World Cup for Cole may create new interest from abroad for his signature but from a neutral point of view, I honestly believe Tottenham to be his most likely destination. Obviously I’m also hoping that is the case but the lure of working with Redknapp again coupled with the fact he would feel very much at home with a number of friends and England team mates at the club must make Tottenham a very attractive proposition.
After our disappointing FA Cup Semi Final exit at the hands of Portsmouth, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Tottenham would bounce back in such dramatic fashion. With our run of fixtures, I honestly thought a top 4 finish was very unlikely, but after two incredible victories, Spurs are now favourites to take the last Champions League spot.
Being the pessimist that I am, I’m still expecting something to go wrong somewhere! Obviously the big one looks to be on May 5th at the City of Manchester Stadium but I think Bolton at home in two Saturday’s time could be key. The best I can see us getting at Old Trafford this weekend is a draw, and even that is unlikely. Man City go to Arsenal for Saturday’s late kick off in a match where we need a favour from the Gunners. I know a number of their supporters would rather lose than help Spurs out, but Wenger will be seething after losing to both Tottenham and especially Wigan, and will expect a serious reaction from his players.
All credit to Harry Redknapp. While opposition supporters continue to knock our gaffer, their can be no denying his ability as a manager. We are now just a point away from our best ever Premier League total and it is no small coincidence that Redknapp achieved the same feat with both West Ham and Portsmouth. Maybe he owed Pompey one and maybe we were never destined to reach this year’s FA Cup Final. However, maybe we are destined to upset the Liverpool’s and Man City’s of the world instead.
If we are going to finally achieve reach the Holy Grail of Europe’s elite competition, I don’t think we will ever get a better opportunity than we have now. Man City are likely to be even better next season, improve year on year and keep spending year on year until they find success. I also can’t see Liverpool’s decline continuing beyond next season. This is our chance, the majority of our squad are ready for the next step and they way they have performed this week tell me they could cope with the top teams from around the globe.
The way we knocked the ball around and completely dominated Chelsea was a pleasure to watch. If we can take that new found confidence into the game against Manchester Utd, who knows what might happen.
St Tottering Day is a popular event for the Arsenal fans. It’s a day they celebrate when it becomes mathematically impossible for Tottenham to finish above them in the league.
I watched Chelsea take Arsenal apart yesterday and was seriously shocked to see the once mighty Gunners destroyed at the Emirates. They claimed they were unlucky against Man Utd last week but I think yesterday’s result well and truly confirmed that Arsenal are well and truly finished. Any team that ships seven goals at home in two games are in serious trouble. Spurs let in a grand total of zero against the same sides at the Lane this year.
Wenger took them to great heights but is no taking them downhill at an alarming rate through his stubbornness and outdated methods. When Harry Redknapp was going to play Hossam Ghaly and the fans reacted badly he took their opinions on board. If Wenger was in the same position, he would definitely not have reacted the same way. It’s that part of his personality that is making Arsenal a laughing stock.
It looks to me like he’s losing the dressing room. Robin Van Persie, a player who I thought would be key for them this season has now caught the famous Arsenal sulk and strut. It causes players to put in ten to fifteen percent effort each game and strut around the football pitch like they are a peacock. Former victims include Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor.
To celebrate this momentous occasion I think we should have our own day. The 10th May will now be known as St Arseing Day. On this special date each year we can rejoice safe in the knowledge there will forever be that unfortunate big blank space next to Arsenal’s previous achievements displayed round the Emirates Stadium.