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Race to 4th place: 2 matches left!

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Right after two heart wrenching matches involving three teams that are still fighting for the coveted 4th spot in this season’s BPL season, it has been concluded that the fight for that aforementioned coveted spot is going all the way to the wire, with the next two matches (with the exception of Aston Villa who has only one left) proving the absolute deciding factor. Basically, Tottenham managed to notch a 1-0 victory against a Bolton side who has nothing to play for as their survival has been secured in the previous week thanks to the three teams at the bottom. While Manchester City arguably clawed their way all the way from oblivion right back into contention for 4th place by defeating fellow contenders Aston Villa 3-1 at home thanks to goals from Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Craig Bellamy.

At a glance, the race to the 4th place are actually being contested by 4 teams, which are Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa, and of course Liverpool. However, when we look beyond the always mind-boggling mathematical permutations and combinations, we could realistically see that actually it is now contested between two teams, which are none other than Tottenham and Manchester City. Furthermore, how fitting that the next match of both teams are actually a match with one another at the City of Manchester Stadium, which will be described again in great detail below.

Tottenham Hotspur

Besides Manchester City, they also managed to save themselves by beating Bolton 1-0 at White Hart Lane and they are at present perched on the 4th spot, the very spot that is being contested from now all the way until the end. They currently have 67 points, and their next game as mentioned is an away match against Manchester City, followed by another away match against the already relegated Burnley.

For Tottenham, to ensure their passage to the 4th place, nothing less than a win would be beneficial for Spurs. Although a draw would seemingly be enough for Spurs as Spurs’ last match against Burnley would certainly net Harry Redknapp’s men 3 full points even if the FA states that for them to win, they have to win by 3 clear goals, and that Redknapp has to field Mrs. Sandra Redknapp as his target(wo)man. While Manchester City will travel to a very tricky place (which will be appropriately discussed in the section for Manchester City). Thus, a draw would be ideal for Spurs but still, in this world, even more so in football, nothing is certain thus Spurs have to try their best to give their A-Game against Manchester City and break the Citizens’ hearts in front of their passionate and long-suffering fans!

Although Manchester City have been shaky even at home, and that they are quite crippled in the goalkeeping department, it would still be a tall task to get something out of Man City at Manchester let alone claiming the full 3 points. This match is certainly anything that the match against Burnley illustrated in the previous paragraph is not.

Manchester City

Unlike Tottenham, nothing less than a win will do their chances to clinch the 4th place any good. A draw will certainly put Man City’s chances into extreme jeopardy and there will not be a way back this time for the Citizens. Man City have to really utilize whatever home advantage that they have against Spurs, From the fans in attendance, all the way down to the thinnest blade of grass on the stadium’s pitch will have to be at their best in supporting the Man City players to bring their A-Game yet again just like how they managed to see off the tricky and dangerous challenge from Aston Villa and to come out victors against an even more dangerous Tottenham.

It is more than crucial for Man City to keep their star performers such as Bellamy, Tevez, and Adebayor motivated and firing on all cylinders for the next match against Spurs. Even more importantly, Roberto Mancini has to find a way to keep his defenders motivated and fired up, and also to formulate effective tactics and to ingrain those tactics into the defenders’ minds so that they will be watertight in the match. This is extremely important as for this match, they won’t be having Shay Given to bail them out if the defenders are in disarray such as how anyone watching Man City’s matches regularly have become really accustomed to by now. One more thing that Man City have to do is simply to not let the recent rumors about how Roberto Mancini is planning to put the local hero Stephen Ireland up for sale at the end of the season and how he asked Tevez to leave if he is unhappy at City, not mentioning a rumored spat between him and Bellamy. Even if those dumb rumors are true, Roberto Mancini really have to dig deep into his reserve of footballing expertise to get the dressing room back before he loses it completely and thus Spurs will not need a second chance to pounce on City and thus the 4th place.

Let’s also not forget that if Man City cannot get a victory against Spurs, there is no way back as Spurs is sure to obtain 3 points against Burnley in their last match while Man city have to travel to West Ham an always tricky place to be. As although West Ham have secured their survival, somehow I believe, and I know I am not alone, Gianfranco Zola’s men won’t give less than 110% for that home match against Man City. Thus, other than a win, bye bye 4th place for Man City.

Unlike the two teams mentioned above, the next two teams do not have their destinies in their own hands and will be relying on their rivals dropping massive points. But nevertheless, they are still in contention.

Aston Villa

With the 3-1 away defeat against Man City, Aston Villa has blown their do or die chance and now will need some sort of miracle if they are to clinch the 4th spot. They will need Man City to be defeated against both Tottenham and West Ham while they themselves have to win against Blackburn at Villa Park. Even if they are able to win against Blackburn, hoping for Man City to drop 6 points is simply just too much. Thus, even with their mathematical chances, it’s simply over for Villa. I mean, just look at Hull City’s position. Mathematically, they have yet to be relegated, but realistically speaking, they have. This is pretty much the same case for Aston Villa’s race to 4th position.

Liverpool

This is the last contender for the 4th place and the second team that will rely on their rivals dropping massive points. The thing is, Liverpool will need to go on a massive overdrive mode plus a generous dose of miracles to clinch the 4th place. In any case, Liverpool have to win their remaining two matches while any teams above them must not obtain beyond 68 points. They can afford this as they have quite a competent goal difference record, but everyone staying at 67 would be the most ideal of course.

But look at Liverpool’s two matches which they have to win. One is the next home match against Chelsea, while the second one, just like Tottenham is a sure fire win match against the already relegated Hull City.

But the question is about whether the beleaguered Liverpool have what it takes to inflict defeat on the champions elect Chelsea, and furthermore, by defeating Chelsea, they will be inadvertently aiding their arch enemy Man Utd to leapfrog their long standing record of the most number of titles won (18 titles) as Man Utd will be winning their 19th, and it would mean that in light of the fact that Liverpool is still quite a long way off at the moment from another title, a 19th title for their arch rival would mean that anyone associated with Liverpool will be having their last bastion of excuse for their recent failures taken away from them. But defeat Chelsea and Hull, they might still be able to retain their elite position as one of the Big Four and also qualify to next season’s Champions League. Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma.

To sum it all up, the race towards the 4th spot is as scintillating or even better than the title race itself since this involves double the number of contenders, but just like what I have mentioned in the above paragraphs, realistically speaking, the race is just mainly between Tottenham and Manchester City, and this race will end as the final whistle in the City of Manchester Stadium in the “Super 4th Spot Playoff” between Manchester City and Tottenham is blown. Enjoy the ride, soccer fans around the world, and don’t blink, as you guys will miss the whole package of extreme, no holds barred excitement!

Written by cp

02/05/2010 at 00:49

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