Spurs set to miss out on the promised land again

Bill Esdaile
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FRUSTRATING finishes have been the story of Tottenham’s recent Premier League campaigns and it looks like they could again miss out on Champions League football by the finest of margins.

Victory at home to Sunderland is the only way, given their inferior goal difference to Arsenal and Chelsea, that Spurs can claim fourth.

Another three points would take them to 72, a tally which would be their highest ever in the Premier League era, but that will only be enough if Arsenal fail to win at Newcastle.

The Gunners are 4/11 to finish in the top four and Spurs 2/1 with Coral.

In theory, Andre Villas-Boas’s men should secure the result that would put the required pressure on their north London rivals, although that isn’t quite the given it looks, at 3/10.

Spurs have missed out on a combined sum of 12 points at White Hart Lane from their fixtures against West Brom, Norwich, Wigan, Stoke and Fulham alone.

That said, there’s every chance Sunderland’s players will have packed their flip flops and swimming shorts by mistake, given that they are now safe from the drop. A better bet is backing Arsenal to get the job done.

Their end of season form has been superb, with only one loss – at Spurs – coming in their previous 15 league outings. An average of 2.4 points per game in that time has helped them leapfrog the Lilywhites, who have averaged 1.9 over the same period.

Coral’s offer of 4/7 about the away win at St James’ Park isn’t too short for me to be interested, but I have enough confidence in the visitors to put up the Arsenal half-time/full-time double result at 6/5 with the same firm.

Forget the fact that the Magpies have regularly denied the Gunners in this fixture, with four of the last five ending level on Tyneside.

A Theo Walcott hat-trick helped his side to a 7-3 victory in the corresponding game in December and the England man showed his quality once more in Tuesday night’s 4-1 hammering of Wigan when he netted for the third straight match.

Walcott has another three career strikes at this ground to his name, is his team’s 21-goal top scorer this term and looks a great shout at 11/2 with Coral to score first.

Given that the net has bulged 32 times in the most recent eight top flight clashes between these clubs, it could be worth buying total goals at 3.3 with Sporting Index.

The other eight contests are all dead rubbers and it is hard to know what approach to take in the circumstances.

However, there are two selections that stand out and the first of those is Everton to beat Chelsea in David Moyes’ last game in charge at 9/2.

The Toffees might not have won at Stamford Bridge since 1994, and Chelsea do need a win to tie up third, but Everton will be eager to give their manager a parting gift and Chelsea will be spent after their midweek Europa League exertions.

Manchester United to win at West Brom is the other. It is not the most adventurous punt ever, but United will also be desperate to win before Sir Alex Ferguson hangs up his wristwatch and they simply seem a big price at 4/5 with Coral.

■ Pointers…
Arsenal HT/ Arsenal FT v Newcastle at 6/5 with Coral
Theo Walcott to score first at 11/2 with Coral
Buy total goals (Newcastle v Arsenal) at 3.3 with Sporting Index
Everton to beat Chelsea at 9/2 (general)
Manchester United to beat West Brom at 4/5 with Coral