Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp predicts tightest ever relegation fight
04 March 2009 10:21
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Remarkably, just 14 points separate the bottom 14 clubs with 12 games left to play, and while West Bromwich Albion remain firm favourites for the drop following their 3-1 defeat by Arsenal, just who will accompany them remains unclear.
Middlesbrough arrive at White Hart Lane still in the relegation zone, but their 2-0 win over Liverpool on Saturday has given Gareth Southgate's team hope and a win at Spurs would enable them to leapfrog over Spurs.
"I couldn't sit here and pick who will go," admitted Redknapp. "It's so difficult to choose, isn't it? Stoke are going to win games at home. They've picked up a point after being 2-0 down with two minutes to go. Blackburn go and win at Hull. Everyone is fighting for their lives.
"With so many teams involved, it is definitely the tightest I can remember. Other years it's three from five or four, this year it's three from 10."
Redknapp recalls Robbie Keane, Winston Palacios and Carlo Cudicini against Middlesbrough after the trio were cup-tied for Sunday's Carling Cup final defeat, but must test Roman Pavlyuchenko, while Ledley King is out and Jonathan Woodgate is doubtful.
And the manager admitted is hoping Tottenham can catch teams on the right day in the final run-in, Redknapp citing the example of Middlesbrough meeting Liverpool just three days after their memorable 1-0 Champions league win over Real Madrid.
"I don't look at the fixture list and think that we have this and that team," he added. They are all hard games but we can beat anyone on our day. It is catching teams right. No disrespect to Middlesbrough, but it was a nice time to play Liverpool on Saturday after Real Madrid.
"Could you have played them after a better time? You will find that happens now. It happened to me at Portsmouth when we had the luck of the draw, playing Arsenal, who had a Champions League match before and after and they had three or four best players missing.
"Manchester United might have won the League and you end up playing them the week before a Champions League semi final. It is all part of the luck of the draw and it can make a big difference."
Included in Spurs' run in are games against Aston Villa, Chelsea, Manchester United and, on the final day, Liverpool, and Redknapp added: "I have always said that you want to play the big clubs towards the end of the season as they are involved in Champions League and cup semi finals. I would be surprised if the big four don't make the semi final of a cup so it all helps."