Forget all the bullshit 'Race for Fourth' posts. Forget all the speculation. Almost as soon as the match against Spurs was rescheduled for the last week of the season, the general feeling was that it would come down to this match to decide fourth place. And so it has turned out that way — it will be Manchester City v Tottenham in what is effectively a play-off final.
The winner will qualify for the final Champions League spot, the riches that come with it, and the possibility of taking on the elite of European club football. The loser will have to be content with the Europa League, and travel to such powerhouses as Ukraine, Romania, and Russia every few weeks. Both teams desperately want the former. If newspaper scuttlebutt is to be believed, for Roberto Mancini, it determine whether he has a job or not next season.
What happens if... Tottenham win?
It's season over for both clubs. With an unassailable four point lead over City, Spurs will qualify for the Champions League, regardless of what happens on the final day against Burnley. City could then finish as low as 6th, if they lose the final game to West Ham and Villa overcome Blackburn.
It's a draw?
Tottenham will still be a point ahead of City, but be two goals behind on goal difference. Regardless of what happens between City and West Ham, Spurs will only have to beat Burnley to ensure 4th spot. But if they fail to do so, then a City win will see the Blues move up to 4th.
A draw will also ensure that City cannot finish lower than 5th.
City win by one goal?
A win will see the Blues leapfrog Spurs into 4th spot, with a two point advantage.
A one goal win also see City extend their goal advantage over Tottenham from two, to four (one more for City, one less for Spurs).
If Manchester City then win the final match over West Ham, they are assured Champs League qualification.
If City can only draw with the Hammers, then Tottenham will need to beat Burnley by at least five goals, as teams that are equal on goal difference are separated by goals scored, which City comfortably leads.
If City lose to West Ham, then Spurs will only have to beat Burnley to secure 4th. A draw would still not be good enough.
City win by two or more goals?
City will of course still be two points ahead — but a draw against West Ham would all but guarantee fourth. If Spurs lose by two goals to City, they will have to beat Burnley by at least seven goals to catch the Blues.
Manchester City $1.95 / Draw $3.45 / Tottenham Hotspur $3.70
Just about even money for City, but I'm nervous enough as it is, without the added pressure of staking money on it.
Odds courtesy of Sportingbet.com.au
Sydney Fans: Where to Watch It
At the moment, it will be 'The Heart of the City', Cheers Bar, at 5am on Thursday morning. But we are also toying with the idea at watching it at Triple Ace Bar near Central Station, which is the home-pub of OzSpurs. I'm not sure whether this is particularly wise considering so much is at stake. We might not even be allowed in. We'll have confirmation of the venue soon.
If you live elsewhere in this fine country, check the Facebook link for details on where to meet with fellow Blues. Melbourne fans will be meeting at Charles Dickens, Perth fans at Kangaroo Arms, and Brisbane Blues will be at the Pig and Whistle.
The Fearless Prediction
I just can't do it. I don't want to jinx it by predicting a win, nor do I want to sound pessimistic by predicting a draw or loss. But I haven't been this anxious before any match before in my life, including Derbies. The one relieving factor is that our fate is in our own hands — we won't be relying on good fortune or favours by other clubs to qualify. All we have to do is win one, possibly two games.