LONDON: After two stunning cup triumphs, Chelsea’s focus will return to the Premier League when Roberto Di Matteo’s side resume their bid to claim a top four place at Arsenal today.
Just three days after the 5-1 demolition of Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea moved one step closer to a place in the Champions League final with a 1-0 victory over Barcelona in the semi-final first-leg. Chelsea have lost just once in 13 games under Di Matteo and Arsenal’s recent home defeat to Wigan will fuel the Blues’ belief they can gain revenge for the 5-3 home defeat they suffered in October.
“We changed the manager and got a few good results,” said goal-keeper Petr Cech. “From that point, the confidence of the team was growing and you can see once you feel more confident the results come. Almost every game is like a big final now.”
The Gunners are five points clear of north London rivals Tottenham, who occupy fourth place, with four games remaining, while Newcastle lie fifth on goal difference.
Spurs’ top four hopes on line against QPR
Emmanuel Adebayor admits Tottenham Hotspur face a test of character when they visit QPR today, six days after suffering a Wembley humiliation.
Tottenham’s home defeat by Norwich in their last league match means only goal-difference separates them from Newcastle. And they are unlikely to be given an easy ride by QPR, who may be fighting to avoid relegation but who have also enjoyed an impressive run of results at home.
“The most important thing now from QPR until Fulham at the end of the season is to finish in the top four,” said Spurs’ striker Adebayor. “We are going through a difficult moment but the quality is still there. We have to show character, personality and fight for the team and the fans.”
Meanwhile, manager Alan Pardew insists the pressure is off Newcastle in their unlikely bid to qualify for the Champions League.
A sixth consecutive victory at home to Stoke City would further boost Pardew’s quest to secure a top-four finish. After being written-off by many before the season, Newcastle have punched well above their weight going into the final five games.
“We’re at ease and we’re calm going into the last few games,” said Pardew. “We’re in great form, the squad is in a good place, and we’re not nervous.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.