Following the thrashing away at Sunderland on Saturday, Tottenham may feel as though they’ve blown their chances of getting Champions League Glory. With the Burnley V Manchester City game being over within the first 7 minutes it has to be said that the weekend could have gone a lot better for Harry’s men, (though had Liverpool taken advantage of their fixture against mid-table Birmingham City- it would have been even worse.) Looking at the fixtures for those four sides who are fighting it out for fourth spot; it is hard to disagree that Tottenham have got the hardest run in.
Their next few games are against the top three sides, including a trip to Old Trafford where they have never won in the Premier league, while Man City face a similar run-in; entertaining Birmingham City before taking on arch-rivals and champions Manchester United and then title-challengers Arsenal. These tough games mean that there is every chance that Liverpool and Aston Villa can if not accommodate that illustrious Champions League spot, certainly narrow the gap. Last year’s runners-up Liverpool find themselves up against fellow Europa League participants Fulham, before taking on two sides from the bottom three in West Ham and Burnley. Outsiders Aston Villa face a similar run-in; a tough game against Everton before two relatively easy fixtures against relegation-struggling sides Portsmouth and Hull City. (In fact, by the time the two sides come to play each other; Portsmouth’s fate will have probably already been decided.)
Arguably one of the most important games of the season is a couple of fixtures after these games though; when Spurs play away against Man City in a game that could be ‘make-or-break’ in the well-publicised race for fourth. Before then Aston Villa will have paid a visit to the City of Manchester Stadium and may have either ruled themselves out of contention or pulled themselves right back in with a chance. Nervously for Liverpool fans; this is a ‘rest-day’ for Rafa and his side as they have played a game more than the others and will be given time to recover from their home game against the current league-leaders Chelsea, for their final game of the season at the KC Stadium.
So, if it all boils down to the last day of the season- on paper it should be three points apiece for these four ambitious football clubs as they all take on opposition who have spent a long time at the ‘wrong end’ of the Premier League. At this stage though it doesn’t appear to be about ‘being good enough’ to cement fourth but rather about who is mentally prepared for the daunting task ahead -that will leave three clubs feeling frustrated, disappointed and even more determined than ever before.
Written by Stephen Rudd