Joe Strange - Is this the greatest Premier League season
Published: 19 Apr 2010 - 07:26:40
After yet another weekend of shock results, controversial decisions and surprisingly predictable unpredictability, the current Premier League season is putting forward a strong case to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.
But away from the rollercoaster title race and the ever-intriguing relegation battle, we've had the pleasure of seeing an exhilarating pursuit of Champions League football work its way towards an increasingly dramatic conclusion.
Whether coming fourth in the league should be heralded as real success is a question which probably deserves its own blog entirely, but the fact remains that for a select few clubs, fourth spot is the equivalent of lifting the Premier League trophy.
But with just three games left to play for most clubs, and Liverpool's dreadful league campaign still in full flow, it's looking odds on that Rafa Benitez's side will be replaced by either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur in Europe's most prestigious club competition next season.
While the Reds' poor form has undoubtedly influenced the current league standings, nothing should be taken away from the two clubs threatening to steal the money-spinning position that is fourth place.
Man City were widely regarded as title challengers after spending what seemed like a gazillion quid last summer, but in reality a top four place was the most they could have hoped for with a squad of stars thrown together in such a short space of time.
Tottenham on the other hand spent moderately last summer, despite having infamous wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp in charge. But even though he didn't splash the cash like City, Redknapp has managed to turn a squad threatened by relegation last season into one capable of challenging the league's elite.
And never has that been proved more emphatically than over the last week.
After 11 years without a home league win over fierce rivals Arsenal, Spurs finally ended the hoodoo with a 2-1 victory last Wednesday evening.
By all accounts the celebrations in and around White Hart Lane were of epic proportion - and so they should've been.
Although the win effectively ended the Gunners' title ambitions, it's a sign of the progress Spurs have made that their celebrations were as much for another vital three points in the race for fourth, as they were the misery they'd just inflicted on their nearest neighbours.
And as if beating Arsenal wasn't enough, on Saturday evening Spurs put in a similarly brilliant performance to defeat top-of-the-table Chelsea, snatching an important three points to move them above Roberto Mancini's men.
Superbly led by their rock-solid captain Michael Dawson, Spurs seem to have developed a perfect blend of hard-working and creative players capable of not only challenging, but beating the league’s big boys.
Many predicted they would fall away with consecutive games against the three title-chasers, but after two sensational wins, Tottenham will head to Old Trafford next weekend with no fear about taking on Manchester United in their own back yard.
And as big a game as that one is, the real test will be 11 days later when they travel back up to Manchester to take on fourth place rivals City in the penultimate game of the season.
It's going to be a very interesting end to the season...
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- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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