What: English Premier League
Who: Tottenham Hotspur (5th; 59 points) vs Birmingham City (17th; 39 points)
When: Sunday 22nd May, 2011, at 16:00 UK Time
Where: White Hart Lane, London, England

Champions League to the Europa League?

Before Spurs made the trip to Anfield it looked all but certain that their resurgent hosts were going to pip them to 5th place and secure qualification for the Europa League. But against the form book the Lillywhites pulled off a surprise victory and now stand in pole position to finish in that crucial spot, and secure that European place.

Striker Peter Crouch is aware that the Londoners need to capitalise on their win on Merseyside saying, ”we have to make sure we finish the season strongly in front of our own fans against Birmingham.” And to do that Crouch and co must start to find the back of the net with more regularity, with just an average of one goal per game being scored in their last four games.

Manager Harry Redknapp will be eager to see Crouch and his team-mates finish a landmark season, which saw a run to the Champions League quarter-finals, on a high note, even if the consequence of that is relegation for the visitors Birmingham City.

Carling Cup to the Championship?

The last time Birmingham were in North London they left the capital with a trophy after their shock Carling Cup final triumph against Arsenal. Since then though the Blues have laboured in the Premier League, picking up a miserly two victories from twelve matches.

The situation the Blues find themselves in can be attributed to a meagre return of 36 goals in 37 league games and defensive frailties following the injury to centre-back Scott Dann. With Spurs likely to attack at will at White Hart Lane, Birmingham will have to stand firm if they are to have any hope of hitting the hosts on the counter-attack and grabbing an all-important win.

During the week’s tense build-up manager Alex McLeish accused his players of having “a gross error of judgement” following reports that a number of the first team squad were out drinking until 4am following an end of season gala. Far from ideal preparation for what veteran striker Kevin Phillips is calling “the £90m match.”


Recent form

Tottenham Hotspur:
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Blackpool (07/05; Premier League)
Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (10/05; Premier League)
Liverpool 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur (15/05; Premier League)

Birmingham City:
Birmingham City 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (01/05; Premier League)
Newcastle United 2-1 Birmingham City (07/05; Premier League)
Birmingham City 0-2 Fulham (15/05; Premier League)

Key absences

Tottenham Hotspur: Wilson Palacios, Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Hutton, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gareth Bale, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, William Gallas

Birmingham City: Scott Dann, James McFadden, Obafemi Martins, Nicola Zigic

Players to watch

Tottenham Hotspur – Jermain Defoe: During the build-up to the clash, the England international has expressed frustration at his failure to hold down a first team spot this season. Given this, it would come as no surprise if this turned out to be Defoe’s final outing for Spurs, and the striker may need to add to his tally of over 100 goals for the North London club if they are to triumph here.

Birmingham City – Lee Bowyer: Mr Consistency for Birmingham City, despite his advancing years Bowyer still possesses endless amounts of energy. He has scored important goals for Birmingham in this campaign and they will need another big performance from him at White Hart Lane. The midfielder’s experience could be badly needed if the Blues have a lead to protect at some point in the match.

Match Prediction

After a gruelling campaign and 37 Premier League matches both sides face a cup final which will define their season. If Spurs can secure the three points and Europa League football then it must be concluded that the Londoners have enjoyed another relatively successful campaign, where they have gone toe-to-toe with the very best that the continent has to offer.

The Carling Cup winners’ chances of survival rely as much on events at Old Trafford and the Britannia Stadium as this game, but anything short of victory at White Hart Lane could well see them relegated. What should have been the best season in the club’s history could end in disaster.

When the stakes are so high the form guide is irrelevant. Birmingham have to attack in a match they would usually approach conservatively and Spurs always play an expansive game at home. There will be goals which will result in a draw, meaning Birmingham will have to nervously wait for news from elsewhere before they know their fate.