Thursday, August 09, 2007

Path to Champions League qualification

As we are about to embark on a new league campaign, I wanted to share my thoughts on what is required for us to finish in the much coveted 'Top Four'. If we're to be as positive next summer as we have been this summer, if we're to hold on to Berbatov, and if we`re to prevent BMJ from departing for national service, I think Champions League qualification is a must. And here's how we achieve it…

HOME FORM
Last season we collected 39 points at White Hart Lane, which gave us the fifth best home record in the league. And after that difficult spell around the turn of the year, it's perhaps no surprise that we accumulated a few more home points the season before (41). This season I think we're capable of picking up 44 points as follows:
Home wins: Aston Villa, Birmingham, Bolton, Derby, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Man City, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Reading, Sunderland, Wigan
Home draws: Arsenal, Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham
Home defeat: Man Utd

AWAY FORM
Throughout last season we had a reputation for being poor travellers, but after a late rally we managed to clock up 21 points (which was only the joint eighth best performance in the league). The season before we managed a little better with 24 points. In my mind, I think we can achieve our away form this coming season by winning 26 points as follows:
Away wins: Birmingham, Derby, Fulham, Middlesbrough, Reading, Wigan
Away draws: Aston Villa, Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Man City, Portsmouth, Sunderland, West Ham
Away defeats: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Newcastle

VERDICT
So my predictions show a total points haul of 70, which assumes a five-point improvement both home and away. Sounds realistic? I'd like to think so. And where would we finish if we were to accumulate 70 points? Well, based on the last three seasons, 70 points would have meant one third placed finish (in 2006-07 when the fourth team finished with 68 points), and two fourth placed finished (when the fourth placed teams notched up 67 points in 2005-06 and 61 points in 2004-05).

Sounds to me there's every reason to be optimistic about the current season - especially if we do achieve CL qualification at the expense of our dear friends down the Seven Sisters Road!

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