Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening where they face Chelsea in the final sprint in the race for the top-four.
I’m not much of a gambler, I must admit – perhaps a fiver on the Grand National is as much as I’m willing to speculate – however, I am betting on a goalless draw in Chelsea’s and Tottenham’s huge clash on Wednesday night which will likely decide who does and doesn’t qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Currently only three points separate three teams – Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – with just three games left to play of this term. My colleague Nick Harris went into great detail in a fantastic outline of the possible outcomes and permutations of Wednesday night’s game.
The only certainty is both teams have everything to lose. It’s often the case in games with such high stakes that both sides are more eager not to lose than they are to win. We saw an apt example of that principle in Reading and Queen’s Park Rangers’ relegation decider last week.
Either side could have won and, at least temporarily, saved themselves from the drop but, alas, neither of them found the guts to pull out all the stops and go for the win – it ended 0-0 and both teams were relegated on the final whistle.
At the other end of the table, the stakes are just as high – both the Blues and Spurs are desperate to make it into the Champions League next term – their fates were entwined around this time last year when Spurs were cruelly denied qualification due to Chelsea winning the Champions League final in Munich.
Once again Spurs find their fate is not quite in their hands and they have to win the fixture to realistically have any hope of qualifying this time around. A draw likely won’t be enough and a loss would all but cut them out the running altogether (barring of course Arsenal losing their last two fixtures).
Chelsea are on a high from their unexpected victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and they still have one eye on the Europa League final – the Blues have played a ridiculous schedule this term and that will likely play a part on Wednesday night.
To heat it up even more, it’ll be Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas’ first return to Stamford Bridge to face the club that sacked him as manager just 14 months ago. This is all just too much pressure – it’s a massive fixture that will decide too much. There is everything to gain, sure, but both sides simply cannot afford to lose.
I’m betting on a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge but whilst I might lose my £1 minimum bet, both Chelsea and Spurs stand to lose a heck of a lot more than that.
image: © EG Focus