Paul Parker

Spurs have edge in race for fourth

Paul Parker

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After the weekend's results, Tottenham are a point ahead of Manchester City in the race for fourth place and there can be no denying they have the edge over their rivals going into Wednesday's big game.

City fans may disagree, given they will be at home when the two clubs meet, but all Spurs have to do is avoid defeat at Eastlands and they should be playing Champions League football next season.

With Burnley away for Spurs and West Ham at Upton Park for City next weekend - eminently winnable games for both sides - it pretty much comes down to the midweek clash.

But City have been poor in big games at home this season - they haven't got the tempo and they rely far too much on Carlos Tevez. If he can be stifled, City can be stopped from playing.

Roberto Mancini is a manager under pressure - he absolutely has to win the game and qualify for Champions League whereas there doesn't seem to be the same pressure on Harry Redknapp.

Spurs have had a good season - including an FA Cup run to the semis - so Harry will certainly be given more time in the hotseat if they fail to snatch fourth.

But Mancini came to City to guide them to the Champions League and the club's owners will not be happy with a mere Europa League spot. That said, he'll probably get another crack at the whip next season, but he will be expected to have a good start to the league season and he will have to stay in the Europa League.

With Spurs not wanting to get beaten, I wouldn't be surprised to see Harry employ a 4-5-1 formation at Eastlands.

He may pack the midfield knowing that he's not going to be outpassed by City. The idea will be to get bodies in there and try to win the ball higher up the park. Defoe can be relied upon as a lone frontman as long as he is supported by likes of Modric, Bale, Huddlestone and maybe Kranjcar.

Harry should go into the game in quite confident mood. Spurs know how to play away from home - they showed that at Old Trafford, where the scoreline flattered United - and I expect them to make it into next season's Champions League. If they do, they will thoroughly deserve it.

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I don't buy into the conspiracy theory that lifelong Liverpool fan Steven Gerrard deliberately set up Didier Drogba for Chelsea's first at Anfield over the weekend.

To suggest he did that to stop Manchester United overtaking his own club's 18 English league titles is absurd. If he had, he would have just killed his own career.

The fact is that the Liverpool captain has endured an indifferent season and his backpass was typical of that - it was nothing more than a poor decision followed by an awful piece of execution.

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Gerrard, and his team-mates did everything they could to stop Chelsea - they were simply not good enough.

That's been proven throughout the season. They've had a few highs but there can be no denying that it has been a terribly disappointing season for them.

They've enjoyed a few highs and nicked the odd result at the right time to keep them sniffing around, especially in the Premier League, but the end result will be disappointing.

They haven't been anywhere near the mark set by their predecessors in the 1980s and haven't been anywhere near good enough to win trophies this season.

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Rafa Benitez has spent his career being at places where he has been wanted, but I don't think he is wanted at Liverpool anymore - either by the fans or by those in the dressing room.

As for the boardroom, we'll just have to wait and see after he has sat down with new chairman Martin Broughton later this week.

What is for sure though is that if there is money to be spent this summer, Benitez is not the man to do it. Fernando Torres aside, he has proved rather inept in the transfer market during his time at Anfield.

For top players to be attracted to a club, they need to have a certain amount of belief in the manager and his ability to guide the club to success. Considering Liverpool won't be playing Champions League football next season it will be difficult enough to attract that kind of player, but when confidence in the manager is low, that task becomes even harder.

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It's been a funny season all around. There haven't been too many great games, we've seen inconsistent performances by our top sides and even Chelsea - deserved winners of the crown - have had their off days.

But even in this season of slip-ups and upsets, I don't believe there are going to be any more dramatic turnarounds on the final day.

Yes, there is a certain amount of pressure on Chelsea now, but we have to remember that it is Wigan going to Stamford Bridge. It's not the Stoke team from midseason or Birmingham City or even Fulham. It's Wigan. Their 3-1 home win over Carlo Ancelotti's side back in Semptember feels like a long time ago, and they achieved that result against 10 men. Their record against big clubs tells me that the destination of the trophy was decided after Sunday's game at Anfield.

Wigan are safe, they're coming to London for their final game, they'll probably stop over on Sunday night, have a night out and the chairman will buy them drinks. They've going to enjoy it, and I can't see them troubling Chelsea.

I've always said that the best team over the course of a season wins the league title. Chelsea are that team and should they seal it next weekend, there can be few arguments.

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