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Friedel tips tight race for CL spots
Published : 07 Feb 2010 20:31:44
For all the talk of Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa breaking into the elite, Liverpool's recent form means the summit of the table includes the four heavyweights that have not seen their dominance broken since 2005 when Everton pipped their rivals. There could be more twists and turns this season as results have been so unpredictable - another unexpected scoreline was Spurs and Villa recording a goalless draw at White Hart Lane despite the attacking players on display. Friedel, who kept Spurs out with a string of saves, believes the race is still alive. "I can't remember it being this tight for the Champions League places," the American said. "It used to be the top two going away then the next two on their own. It'll be different this time. "I would think it will go to the end, looking at the results this season. Clubs are dropping points and it's going to make it exciting." Spurs have dropped points at home to Stoke, Wolves and Hull this season and their fans have turned on Harry Redknapp's team - but this time they accused Villa of being "boring". In truth, Spurs simply could not find a way past Richard Dunne and James Collins - and when they did Friedel was at his dependable best. The only surprise was Redknapp keeping Eidur Gudjohnsen on the bench, rather than bringing his new signing on to support Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. "It's funny because a lot of their attacks came from long balls up to Crouchy, who headed it down to Defoe," Friedel added. "So I'm not quite sure where they (Spurs fans) are coming from." At the other end, Ledley King played his fourth Premier League game in a row and kept Gabriel Agbonlahor quiet with a numbr of well-timed challenges. King cannot play matches in quick succession due to a chronic knee condition but is hoping to play a key part in Spurs' run-in after coming so close to a Champions League place four years ago. "I think we've got a stronger squad than them," King said. "You've seen the likes of David Bentley and Gareth Bale coming in and they're playing great, and they've added to the team, and that's the beauty of having the kind of squad we've got. "We believe we can still do it, it's going to go down to the wire, but the best team at the end of the day will get fourth spot." King's knee problems denied him a return to the England fold last season, despite Fabio Capello being an admirer of the centre-back. Redknapp has championed his case for an inclusion as a 'super-sub' for the World Cup squad as he feels the defender deserves to play at the top. King himself would relish the chance of playing in the Champions League next season should Spurs get in the top four. "For the last few years I've felt the club's always been going in the right directions, and finally we've got a manager who hopefully can do that for us," King said. "The Champions League is something I sit down and watch and look forward to on the Tuesday and Wednesday. I probably would have liked to have played it a bit earlier in my career, but that's the way it goes. "Any footballer, playing at club level, aspires to play in the Champions League against the best players around. "You want to play in those games, the atmosphere, against the best players, that's what you strive to do, you go into training every day and work hard to test yourself against the best. "All the lads here love watching the games and we'll talk about them on the Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the games and there's a hunger for us to achieve that." Aston Villa v Man. Utd. Click here to bet.