Just a couple of months after the Premier League voted against the introduction of a play off to decide the last Champions League place Spurs go to Eastlands to play what is tantamount to a play off to decide the last Champions League place. The ramifications of each outcome of Wednesday eveningâ€™s game arenâ€™t hard to understand. If we win, weâ€™ve got fourth place no matter what happens at the weekend. If we lose, we need to win at Burnley on Sunday and hope that West Ham do us a favour at Upton Park by beating City. If that game ends in a draw, we could still get fourth but weâ€™d have to win at Turf Moor by a very handsome margin. And finally, if we leave Manchester with a point, then matching at least whatever result Man City get in East London will be enough for us.
Our misfiring attack and Cityâ€™s greater need for a win mean that on paper this game looks to be a straight battle between the home sideâ€™s stat studded front line and our back four, except that with King, Gomes and Corluka all struggling for fitness, we may not be able to put out a defence we can totally rely on. Itâ€™d be a real blow if Gomes werenâ€™t to make it. Harryâ€™s non-stop search for a replacement for Cudicini since the motorcycle accident gives a pointer as to his confidence in Ben Alnwick. Right back will be a key position as that is where Bellamy does most of his pouting and posing. Kaboulâ€™s performance against Bolton was a huge improvement on other recent displays and if the treatment Corlukaâ€™s been receiving isnâ€™t enough to get him on to the pitch then the Frenchman will play Iâ€™m sure. In the middle, itâ€™ll be a surprise if Ledleyâ€™s able to play but if not, Sebastien Bassong hasnâ€™t let us down all season and will do fine.
Redknappâ€™s choice of midfield personnel entirely depends upon his attitude towards this game. Palacios and Lennon are available and both would, you suspect, be in his first choice four across the middle. Modric and Huddlestone have done superbly lately though and after the below par display at Old Trafford it seems risky to break them up again. Bringing Lennon in from the start would send a signal that weâ€™re not just going to sit and be happy with what we start with. For the neutral, Lennon, Bale, Johnson and Bellamy all starting is a mouth-watering prospect.
I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if Crouch gets the nod up front in place of one of Defoe or Pav, as both have looked stale lately. Defoe has scored one goal from open play in his last ten games and Pav one in his last nine. Whilst heâ€™s no Joe Jordan or even a Bobby Zamora Crouchâ€™ll hold the ball up better than the other two and cause more of a nuisance. The option will be there to use one of Pav or Defoe as an â€˜impactâ€™ player. All the rage these days apparently.
Our record at Man Cityâ€™s converted Commonwealth stadium is a good one with only one loss in eight visits. Weâ€™re used to seeing gaps in the home crowd and being able to hear a pin drop but this wonâ€™t be the case this time round. Their fans are desperate for success and even though the Abu Dhabi millions mean theyâ€™ll get it sooner rather than later, theyâ€™d prefer it right now and will get behind their team.
It feels like itâ€™s â€˜ourâ€™ fourth place weâ€™ve been just above the dotted line for so long. Just a couple more quality performances and it will be.
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