In the final quarter of the English premier league and the battle for positions becomes fiercer like never before. Queens park rangers find themselves in a very precarious situation with just 17 points from 27 games, almost certain of going down except for a miracle but the other two clubs joining them to the championship is keenly contested by Reading, Aston villa, Wigan, Southampton and Sunderland with only 6 points separating them. At the top, the red half of Manchester have opened a 12 points gap between them and their noisy neighbours City who are looking for serious motivation to retain their crown and in danger of losing second spot to a treble London threat where Spurs, European champions Chelsea and Arsenal are involved in the fiercest battle for pride, champion league football and bragging right.
By April, Manchester would have taken two of four spots for next season’s champions league leaving only two spots available for three London clubs to scuffle and I feel it will go down the wires to the last game of the season in May to decide that. Presently, Tottenham with 51 points, have the edge with a two points lead over Chelsea and the gunners are a further four behind. There is so much at stake and a lot to play for when you consider the money and stars available to a club that competes in Europe. This weekend, spurs will be welcoming the gunners to white hart lane for a break or mare match where a victory for spurs will increase the gap to seven points between them. The rivalry between these two north London neighbours have generated so much bad blood in the past and though spurs have not finished above the gunners in the league in decades, doing so this season will almost feel like winning EPL trophy! Chelsea though doing the double over Arsenal has not established a commanding lead over them and still welcomes Totteham later in April.
Chelsea is having lots of trouble off the pitch that one wonders what next will happen (definitely something must happen) just like a suspense movie. Last week, it was the rumoured clashed between the manager Rafa and the captain Terry who is fully backed by most senior players. This week, we witnessed another outburst from Rafa, this time directed at everybody in sight. He spoke against the attitudes of some fans, the mistake of addressing him as interim coach either by the management or his agent, the performance and chances of the team to make the top four at the end of the season and boasted about his rich profile. These issues will certainly affect their chances based on their recent performance as they seem to be sliding down the league table. They also have been lacking the killer instinct that made them European champions last season where their defending was world class; they have a defense though very good seem to lose concentration in the later part of the game and their attackers can’t seem to find the back of the net. They still get to welcome spurs and a trip to old Trafford, these games will shape their position on the table come May and they are still competing in the Europa league which is very tough with lots of traveling involved. Their form is suspect but be rest assured, they got class and pedigree in big occasions.
Tottenham is bitter and I can tell you finishing well ahead Chelsea and Arsenal will be like taking their own pound of flesh. These two London clubs have been the reason they are still considered as pretenders to the big four. Arsenal have somehow always finished above them in the league and most recently on the final day of the season. Chelsea hurt them more in that even when they fought so hard to finish amongst the top four, they were knockout by Chelsea to qualify for the champions’ league as defending champions. With their youthful manager Andres Villas-Boas at the helms of the affairs who was ‘mistakenly’ fired in my opinion, spurs have transformed into a formidable team that can beat whoever anywhere. He will also be glad to prove a point to his former employers how wrong they were to fire him. It is all about pride and all to prove for Tottenham this season. The story of spurs won’t be complete without talking about the form of Bale who seems to be improving with every match and have developed a knack for pooping up with the goods when the chips are down. Though ahead the rest by two points, they have the toughest fixtures remaining, with games against Chelsea, Liverpool, man city, Everton and even Arsenal this weekend. Form or class is a puzzle only spurs can solve by maintaining their good runs but I think it’s a mixture of both and the genius of a wonderful manager.
Arsenal is bottom of this three-horse race at the moment and may find themselveslosing out of champions league football for the first time in sixteen years of Arsene Wenger’s reign if they do not do away with their consistent inconsistency in this latter part of the season. The manager is under intense pressure to win laurels for the club but he has failed to do so in eight years and the club is certain to exit the champions league from the round of sixteen, having already lost 1-3 against Bayern with the return leg in Munich, the only thing left is to qualify for the competition next term. He failed to add quality players to his team during the winter window, rather depending on the return of the injured players to come back and the renewal of contracts for some others whose contracts are almost coming to an end.
He succeeded in doing all he wanted but the problem is that most of the players back from injury are neither fit nor sharp. The defense is so poor that it caves at every little pressure and conceding in ninety percent of their games. The attack lacks bite with too much passing in the final third of their opponents half without any impact. Infact, the team lacks character and the determination to win things. The only thing working in their favour is the pedigree of the coach and the club which is fast fading and losing their values. Though they are on a three match winning streak in the league, their form is not convincing and they have some overrated class players with Wilshere as the only outstanding player. Winning Tottenham this weekend will give them a massive lift and the motivation for a top four finish.
So who in your opinion do you think will make it to the top four this term?
Written by Damiete Sanipe ‘the voice’ (422)