A lot of neutrals and pundits on TV and radio seem to have Manchester City down as favourites for that all important fourth spot. They are certainly a team in form and have the players who look capable of handling the big game pressure between now and the end of the season. There is one problem though- five out of their final six games are against teams who all have something major to play for.
Let’s have a look at their final fixtures for 09/10 and see if they can come through this acid test or not:
Sunday, 11th April – Birmingham (H): Alex McLeish’s men are safe and have nothing to play for- that makes them a dangerous animal. However, City look at the top of their game at the moment and will ensure that they don’t slip up here.
Prediction: City win.
Saturday, 17th April – Manchester United (H): The big one. Quite simply this Manchester derby could be even more exciting than the Carling Cup semi-final games between the two, and United’s experience will be invaluable here. Expect goals and a true test for both sides, with United wanting to prove that having been down this road before, and the defeat to Chelsea, will galvanise them.
Prediction: United win
Saturday, 24th April – Arsenal (A): All of Arsenal’s efforts will now be on winning the title. I think the fact that City will probably have to win could work against them here. Arsenal love it when teams come at them and, just like the derby the week before, we can be fairly sure that there will be goals- except City will concede more than the Gunners.
Prediction: Arsenal win
Saturday, 1st May – Aston Villa (H): So by my estimations City will have lost two on the trot. Now comes a team that could still be involved in the race when this game arrives. Martin O’Neill’s men always make you work hard for anything and that is what the home team will know, but two defeats on the trot will make them doubly determined here.
Prediction: City win
Wednesday, 5th May – Tottenham (H): Well, well, well. This could well be the one where the two sets of supporters are in for a night of drama and tension at Eastlands, and will be a neutrals joy. This is both clubs’ game in hand and it looks the two will be the only ones still involved in attempting to reach Champions League qualification. Has the makings of a cracker, and I see both cancelling each other out.
Sunday, 9th May – West Ham (A): In some ways City could not have asked for a tougher final game. The relegation battle looks like going down to the final day and the Hammers are right in the thick of it. This is when City will have to hope that all of their star players are really on top of their game, and make sure their quality comes through in the end. If West Ham aren’t safe by the final day than this is a real nail-biter.
Prediction: City win
Total points after 38 games – 69. Depending on how Tottenham get on, who arguably have a tougher run-in, this may be enough for fourth spot. Don’t rule out it going until the final day of the season.
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