Darren Bent Returns To Haunt Spurs, Puts Man City, Liverpool In The Driving Seat
Darren Bent returned to haunt Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur in the worst way possible as his brace helped Sunderland to a 3-1 win over the Champions League chasing side. On a greater scale the result has put Manchester City firmly in the driving seat in the race for fourth with Spurs, Liverpool, and Aston Villa.
Although Spurs travelled to the stadium of Light with a much depleted squad, 11 players are currently on the treatment table, they knew that anything less than a win would severely limit their chances of reaching the Champions League.
90 minutes later and a rampant Sunderland, led by Darren Bent, had seen off the North London side with their best performance of the season. Amazingly, Bent scored twice, once from the spot, but then missed two more penalties as Heurelho Gomes saved both.
Bolo Zenden then scored a goal of the season contender at the death after Spurs had threatened to take an undeserved point from the game.
This result combined with Manchester City's 6-1 demolition of Burnley leaves Spurs in fifth, two points behind the Eastlands based club.
With Spurs to face Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City in the coming weeks, their chances of finishing fourth now look a distant dream.
Former Spurs winger David Ginola still believes that the club can make fourth as they hold their destiny in their own hands.
“They just have to hold tight. It’s in their hands," he urged.
“When I came to the Lane I remember everyone telling me about the glorious Spurs style. When I signed they had flair and were an attractive team to watch.
“They are playing like this under Harry Redknapp now and it is great to watch.
“They can (still) finish fourth—and hopefully they can also win the Cup. That would be an amazing achievement because, these days, it’s harder to be an elite club.”
However, contrary to the ex-Spurs players beliefs, Jamie Carragher that following City's move into fourth that they now hold all the cards in the race.
“People look at our run-in and think we’ve got easier games than City and Spurs.
But I’d much rather be where they are than where we are and because of that I think City are probably favourites to finish fourth.
We can’t worry about the others, though, because we’ve got to get ourselves in a position where we can put some pressure on them.
It’s no good what a run-in looks like on paper. You’ve got to win your matches. City and Spurs might have tough games to come. But who’s to say they won’t win them?
They are up where they are because they’re two very good teams. For me, City are definitely favourites.”
Looking at the run of fixtures between the three teams, one would have to say that Liverpool hold the upper hand. They have the easiest run in and their experience in tight situations could be vital in determining who will gain fourth.
Their form has been poor all season though and the Reds now need to put on a six game unbeaten run if they are to save their season, and possibly Rafael Benitez's job. That is something they have only managed to do once this season and that was last September.
Each of the three main protagonists have six games to play, with City on 59pts, Spurs on 58pts, and Liverpool and Aston Villa on 54pts.
There will be twists and turns yet and it is still too close to call, but Spurs defeat at Sunderland would seem to have put them out of the running, unless they can produce unlikely points against the three title challengers.