Spurs renew Champions League chase

Tottenham supporters have spent the week wondering who they will get in the Champions League quarterfinals but their first concern is qualification for the competition next season.

Updated: March 18, 2011 11:12 IST
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London: Tottenham supporters have spent the week wondering who they will get in the Champions League quarterfinals but it is qualification for the competition next season that has been uppermost in the mind of manager Harry Redknapp since AC Milan were squeezed out over two legs.

Tottenham know that victory over fellow Londoners West Ham on Saturday lunchtime will bring them level on points with fourth-place Chelsea, who take on Manchester City the following day.

The reigning Premier League champions have a far superior goal difference tally however so will remain in the final Champions League qualification spot whatever happens at White Hart Lane.

West Ham are equally keen to take all three points as they have been fighting a battle against relegation all season and, despite victories in their last two league games, will kick-off in the Premier League drop zone.

The Hammers have already chalked up two notable victories over Tottenham this season.

In September a goal from Frederic Piquionne gave them a 1-0 win at Upton Park and more recently the club was awarded future use of the Olympic Stadium instead of Tottenham.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale is on course for the Player of the Year trophy and West Ham manager Avram Grant will no doubt be drawing up plans to limit his influence on the left of midfield if he plays.

That is also a conundrum that England manager Fabio Capello will soon be facing when Bale plays for Wales in the Euro 2012 qualifiers and Michael Dawson, the Tottenham and England defender, knows there is no simple answer.

"How do you stop Gareth Bale? That's a good question," he admitted. "If I am in the England squad, people will be asking me how. It's very hard to stop Gaz. Sometimes he is just unstoppable. Many a team have tried this season.

"Before his back injury, he was flying. He's back in full training now and he is certainly looking like he was before he left so hopefully we will see the best of him against West Ham and not against England a week later."

Dawson is unlikely to be partnered at the back by France international William Gallas, although Tottenham insist his hamstring injury is not so severe that he is certain to be sidelined for a number of weeks.

Grant is likely to make changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Stoke City in the FA Cup quarter-finals last week, with Demba Ba, the Senegal international forward, set for a recall after a rest.

Robbie Keane, the Republic of Ireland forward, has recovered from a thigh injury and made his comeback against Stoke but cannot play on Saturday because he is on loan from Tottenham.

Grant has been charged by the Football Association of improper conduct following comments he made about referee Mike Jones after the Stoke defeat, implying that the official had awarded the home side a penalty because he felt 'guilty' for allowing Piquionne's first-half goal to stand, in which the Frenchman appeared to use an arm to control the ball in the build up.

The Israeli faces the prospect of following Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson in being handed a touchline ban.

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