The race to finish in the top four is beginning to take shape. Tottenham Hotspur seemingly had it wrapped up over February after finding themselves a massive 10 points ahead of North London rivals Arsenal.

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Published On: Fri, Mar 23rd, 2012

Spurs look to cause upset

The race to finish in the top four is beginning to take shape. Tottenham Hotspur seemingly had it wrapped up over February after finding themselves a massive 10 points ahead of North London rivals Arsenal. However, a poor run of form saw the Gunners leapfrog Spurs into third and with it, many sceptical about whether Harry Redknapp’s can really secure Champions League football. Chelsea have dragged their way back in the hunt following an upturn in form under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo and now are within just five points of fourth placed Spurs. The two sides are set to meet at the weekend and after checking the latest Soccer Odds, it appears the Blues are the overwhelming favourites to cut the gap from five points to two.

Spurs haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1990 and with the teams currently in a vast contract of form, despite the results for both sides on Wednesday night; it is hardly surprising to see Chelsea instilled as the bookies favourites. The return to goalscoring form of Fernando Torres last weekend will surely boost the morale around the camp and even if he wasn’t on the score sheet in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, he will undoubtedly cause the leaky Spurs back four countless problems on Saturday afternoon.

The West London giants look stronger across all quarters of the pitch since Andre Villas-Boas was relieved of his managerial duties at the beginning of the month and many are expecting them to steamroll Tottenham in the Saturday lunch time kick off. Yet the North London side aren’t one to be taken lightly. Yes, they may not have won in their last four Premier League encounters, coming perilously close to falling to Stoke City in the mid-week encounter at White Hart Lane with Rafael Van der Vaart the hero after his late header saw Spurs draw 1-1 with the Potters.

But like Di Matteo, Redknapp has a number of options available to him that can cause damage to any defence on their day. The aforementioned Van der Vaart, the tricky Gareth Bale and the diminutive Luka Modric can all threaten any defensive back line at the drop of a hat while strikers Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor will undoubtedly cause Petr Cech, David Luiz and, if he is passed fit, captain John Terry trouble all afternoon.

Yet, it is hard to overlook the match winners the Italian has at his disposal for the Blues. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge will all be looking to test Brad Friedel, Ledley King and Younes Kaboul and ensure that the unbeaten record against Spurs stretches to a 23rd year. Like any London derby, form goes out the window and while it easy to back Chelsea having won the first four of five games Di Matteo has taken charge for, it matters little when it comes to two rivals coming together. The result, be in a win for one side or a draw, will prove pivotal in the final quest to secure Champions League football next season. However, come three o’clock on Saturday afternoon, will the gap be narrowed to two points, remain at five or stretched to eight?

Ben McAleer

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