Race for 4th Place: Advantage Tottenham

A 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Arsenal on Sunday has positioned Tottenham Hotspur in sixth place as we go into the international break.

Harry Redknapp’s side, still with a game in hand against Everton to catch up would move into joint fourth with Newcastle with a victory.

Tottenham’s biggest story of the transfer window was keeping hold of Luka Modric despite an attractive £40 million bid from Chelsea.

However, the capture of Scott Parker has been a good addition to the side with last season’s Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year settling the well. Then the loan capture of Emmanuel Adebayor is the goalscoring striker Spurs fans had been calling for last season.

Along with Brad Friedel in goal, Tottenham have upgraded in 3 positions this season, as well as starting with Kyle Walker at right back, in place of both Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka and Younes Kaboul who all tried their luck in that position last term.

Whilst Tottenham have been upgrading their squad, rivals, top 4 perennials and last season’s fourth place finishers, Arsenal have downgraded. A top 4 finish is looking harder to come by for Arsene Wenger’s side as each week goes by. It may be too early to right them off but they’re already playing catch up on both Tottenham and Liverpool.

The bookmakers currently have Tottenham fifth favourites to finish in the top 4 at 2.22. Narrowly ahead of them is Liverpool; priced at 2.18.

Liverpool are 1 point ahead of Tottenham, having played a game more. Tottenham have already thrashed Liverpool 4-0 at White Hart Lane, and played Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal. Liverpool too have beat Arsenal, and return from the international break to host Manchester United. They do not play Manchester City or Chelsea until late November.

Kenny Dalglish’s side have not made the most confidence start to the season, but they are winning none-the-less. They were tied with Arsenal until Emmanuel Frimpong’s sending off in game 2. Their opening goal in a 2-1 victory of Wolves was aided by an Andy Carroll foul on Roger Johnson that went unnoticed by the referee leading up to the opening goal. And this weekend, they were helped by a ridiculous sending off at Everton and then two poor pieces of defending to pick up 3 points. Can Liverpool’s luck continue throughout the season?

Whilst Ledley King remains fit, Tottenham have a top defender on their books. Alongside him is Younes Kaboul who is starting to live up to his potential in 2011. They have support from both Scott Parker and Sandro offering an extra line of defence in front of the back four.

Tottenham’s biggest strength though is going forward. Gareth Bale who was quiet on Sunday is the current PFA Players’ Player of the Year. Luka Modric pulls the strings in midfield. Rafael van der Vaart has 15 goals and 11 assists in his 33 Premier League games. That’s an impressive record, even for a penalty taking support striker. Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjcar and Steven Pienaar shows the strength in depth of this squad.

One distraction Tottenham have this season is the Europa League. However, it has not affected their domestic form as of yet. Helped by Redknapp resting the majority of his first team, Spurs have picked up 6 points in their games versus Liverpool and Arsenal which have following Thursday night games.

I came into this season with some doubts over Harry Redknapp, but he’s on course to shake them off as Tottenham are ready to finish in the top 4 for the second time in three seasons.