Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2013 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 7, 2013
MANCHESTER --- Rafa Benitez can virtually wrap
up part one of his mission at Chelsea by guiding the
team to the cusp of the Champions League with a
win over top-four rival Tottenham in the Premier
The Spaniard is still unloved at Stamford Bridge
but even the most ardent critic of Benitez must be
impressed with the job he s done in his six months
at the club.
By reaching the final of the Europa League, Benitez
is close to winning the trophy he so craves to mark
his brief spell at Chelsea. And beating fifth-place Spurs
would all but secure a return to Europe s top com-
petition, which was the club s priority this season. A
win would put Chelsea six points clear of its London
rival --- and with a vastly superior goal difference ---
with two games left.
We will try to win because we know it will guarantee
a top-four finish," Benitez said after Sunday s 1-0 win
at Manchester United. "Winning is crucial for us ---
it s even more important for them (Tottenham), so
there will be a great atmosphere at Stamford Bridge."
Climbing to second place may be a step too far for
Chelsea, however, especially if Manchester City beat
West Bromwich Albion today to cement the runner-
up spot behind already-crowned champion Manchester
United. City is four points clear of Chelsea with three
The tension is building at the other end of the stand-
ings, too, with Wigan able to climb out of the relegation
zone by beating Swansea in today s other game.
Wigan has proved to be the Premier League s peren-
nial escapologist, having survived the drop on the sea-
son s final day in three of the past six years. With such
experience of relegation scraps, Roberto Martinez could
be the calmest manager around over the next fort-
"We don t just escape. As a football club we win
the title every time we stay in the league," Martinez
said. "It s a different approach. Any other club fights
to avoid something or fears to lose something; we
"We don t fight to avoid relegation. It s not a negative
--- it s the opposite."
Moving out of the bottom three --- and being
replaced by one of the northeast clubs, Newcastle or
Sunderland --- would be the perfect tonic for Wigan
ahead of its FA Cup final against Man City on Sat-
If Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is to have
any chance of victory on his first return to Chelsea
since his firing 14 months ago, then he will need
Gareth Bale to maintain his sensational run of form
that is virtually carrying Spurs at the end of the sea-
The Wales winger grabbed a late winner against
Southampton on Saturday, taking his tally for the
campaign to 20 goals, and he has scored in Tottenham s
last four league games. No wonder he was named
England s Player of the Year and football writers
Player of the Year last week.
"We will have to watch one of the best players in
the world," Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata said of Bale.
"He is in an amazing shape and proves to be a decisive
player for Spurs almost every week."
Mata has proved to be Chelsea s answer to Bale this
season. The Spain international was arguably the best
player on the pitch against United on Sunday --- it
was his shot that deflected in off Phil Jones for the
crucial late goal --- and is going strong even though
he has played 62 games for club and country this sea-
son. This on the back of featuring for Spain in the
Olympic football tournament last summer.
"He could be Player of the Year for what he s done
for us, scoring goals and giving assists," said Benitez,
who could welcome back Eden Hazard from a calf
problem for the Spurs match.
For Spurs, even a draw may not be good enough
as it would leave them a point behind fourth-place
Arsenal with two games left. Arsenal then has its des-
tiny in its own hands with matches against Wigan
and Newcastle remaining.
"It will be extremely difficult, but if we achieve
these nine points (from the three remaining games),
we will be enjoying Champions League football next
season," Villas-Boas said. "That is our aim, but we
understand that other teams are improving and it will
probably go down to the wire." (AP)
Benitez to wrap up part 1 of Chelsea mission
Links Archive May 6th 2013 May 8th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page