Saturday, 7 August 2010

Spurs must seize their chance

Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have dominated English football for the past decade. The Champions League has been a private playground for these four clubs, and their domination resulted in them being dubbed the ’big four’. In the past 10 years English sides have qualified for the Champions League group stages 37 times, with 35 of those achieved by the ‘big four’. Outside of these four teams, only Leeds United in 2000 and Newcastle United in 2002 have made it into Europe’s finest club competition proper. Newcastle and Everton failed to get past the Third qualifying round in 2003 and 2005 respectively. This trend has been great for the ‘big four’ clubs, but rather embarrassing for the rest of England’s top division. Many neutrals wanted to see a new name in the top four of the Premier League, and last season saw Tottenham Hotspur finish fourth after years of near misses and disappointing shortcomings.

Last season’s fourth place finish has entered Tottenham into the relatively new Champions League Play-off round. The draw was yesterday and Spurs received what would appear to be a pretty straight forward outcome. Tottenham were drawn against Swiss side Young Boys, avoiding the likes of Sampdoria, Auxerre and Dynamo Kiev. In another bonus, the second leg will take place at White Hart Lane on August 25. Back in 2005 Everton were rather unfortunate when they were drawn against Villarreal, who went on to reach the Semi-Finals, eliminating Manchester United (in the group) along the way. Spurs have dodged such bad luck with their draw and have been given an ideal chance to add some fresh English blood to the Champions League for the first time in eight years.

Harry Redknapp has built a large, strong and talented squad over the last season or so. His team has a fantastic home record, and the win at Eastlands at the end of last season which cliched fourth place, was a superb display, showing how far Tottenham have come. Should Tottenham advance to the group stages of the Champions League, I believe that they have a very good chance of making it to the knockout rounds, considering their big squad and strength at White Hart Lane. They proved all their doubters wrong last season, and now Spurs must seize their chance to test themselves at the highest level.

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