By Mark Duckworth of The National Game
The current Premier League season is being regarded as one of the best since the league began, and proof of that will be on show tomorrow night when the fight for fourth place will gain everyone’s attention.
The title race may be going down to the wire, but the sub-plot for fourth place has also been building up nicely and at Eastlands on Wednesday night in front of the Sky cameras it could finally be decided.
Roberto Mancini promised fourth spot on arrival at Eastlands and it looks like he might deliver. City are the ones currently chasing the final Champions’ League spot, and after coming from behind at the weekend against a spirited Aston Villa side, City should be full of confidence. It’s been a strange season for City that kind of sums up the Premier League; they have seen their supposed best player leave on loan, a manager sacked for not doing that badly and one of their team dragged into a player scandal. And just like the Premier League they have carried on battling away and now look to reap the rewards and play host to Europe’s finest once again.
Their win against Villa on Saturday made the fourth spot battle a two horse race and with the manner of that win I feel it makes City favourite for the clash at Eastlands. Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor are all peaking at the right time, but its the form of Patrick Vieira that will be pleasing Mancini the most, Vieira may have started slow but these last few games have seem the charismatic Frenchman back to his best.
In contrast to City, Spurs have had an excellent season, with a solid manager coupled with good seasons from the likes of Defoe, Lennon, and Gomez. Redknapp may have fallen in the FA Cup semi-final, but the experience gained in that defeat could serve them well on Wednesday evening as the game is expected to have a feeling of a cup tie. Tottenham go into this game on a decent run of form. With only a defeat by Manchester United spoiling what would have been a perfect April. They beat a tough Bolton side at the weekend, but what will be worrying Redknapp is the team’s failure to kill off their opponents, and as City proved at the weekend if you give them a chance they will gladly take it.
Hoping to take his own chance will the new Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale , Bale is having a magnificent season on the Spurs left flank and as he adds goals to his ever improving ability, Spurs could have finally found a replacement for their past hero Glenn Hoddle. Bale has been one of the reasons why Spurs have had such a productive season, and I feel if they are going to beat City on Wednesday night then they will need him at his best.
And sadly its goodbye to Hull City who have been relegated from the Premier League, who after a 2-2 draw at Wigan could no longer catch West Ham. Hull’s fans have been brilliant over the past two seasons. And with the drama of last season and this season they have been a strong addition to the league.
Mark Duckworth is a writer for The National Game. He is a guest columnist for The Soccer Guys.