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Premier League previews: Trio continue hunt for coveted fourth spot

Tottenham, Newcastle and Chelsea will all be hoping to enhance their Champions League prospects tonight.

Tottenham secured a comfortable win over Blackburn at the weekend.
Tottenham secured a comfortable win over Blackburn at the weekend.

Bolton v Tottenham

BOLTON AND TOTTENHAM have plenty still to play for in their Premier League match at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday.

Owen Coyle’s Bolton are in the relegation zone ahead of the clash with Spurs, but hold a game in hand over their immediate rivals on the table.

Just one point would see them escape the bottom three, at the expense of QPR.

And dropped points for Tottenham would put a dent in the fourth-placed visitors’ challenge for the final Champions League qualification berth.

Newcastle are fifth and level on points with Spurs, while Chelsea are one point behind in sixth spot.

That being the case, Spurs need to win their final three games to guarantee fourth, and hope Chelsea lose the Champions League final to Bayern Munich, so fourth place in the Premier League still carries the reward of a European place next term.

However, manager Harry Redknapp has his sights on third place and automatic Champions League rights, unaffected by Chelsea’s fortunes in this year’s final.

Redknapp cited the example of Wigan’s shock 2-1 win over Arsenal as a reason not to take anything for granted between now and the end of the season.

“We’ve just got to keep going and you never know what will happen,” he said.

“Who’d have thought Wigan would pull off that result at the Emirates?”

Spurs have an extensive injury list, consisting of defenders Benoit Assou-Ekotto (shoulder) and Michael Dawson (ankle), as well as midfielders Niko Kranjcar (knee), Tom Huddlestone (ankle) and Davis Bentley (knee).

Bolton also have several key players sidelined, including Fabrice Muamba (illness), Ricardo Gardner (hip), Lee Chung-Yong (broken leg) and Stuart Holden (knee).

Chelsea v Newcastle

(Fernando Torres will be hoping to continue his recent goalscoring form – Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Chelsea and Newcastle lock horns in a crucial Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Both clubs are right in the mix for a fourth-place finish and potential qualification for the Champions League, with Newcastle trailing fourth-placed Tottenham on goal difference only.

Chelsea, who could make finishing fourth irrelevant with victory in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich next month, are a point behind Newcastle and Tottenham, but have a superior goal difference.

The Blues are riding high following an incredible two months under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.

They have lost just once since he took charge – away to Manchester City – and have progressed to the FA Cup final as well as the Champions League final following their stunning upset over Barcelona in the semis last week.

Chelsea made plenty of changes to the team that pulled off a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou, but still had little trouble in routing Queens Park Rangers 6-1 in their most recent league outing on Sunday.

There could be even more changes for the Newcastle match, with the west London club preparing for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday.

Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick against QPR and looks likely to keep his place, assuming Di Matteo holds back Didier Drogba for Liverpool.

Newcastle notched six straight victories to move into the box seat for a fourth-place finish, but a shock 4-0 loss at the hands of Wigan opened the door for Tottenham to leapfrog them on the table.

Midfielder Cheick Tiote apologised to fans following that Wigan defeat and will be hoping to give them something to cheer about on Wednesday.

“I am disappointed for the supporters,” he told nufc.co.uk.

“We are thinking about Wednesday now, and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about at Chelsea.

“Before this, we win every game and this one we lost heavily, so it was not good for the team. Everyone is disappointed, but it is finished now and we need to think about Chelsea on Wednesday.”

Newcastle play Manchester City and Everton to finish the season, so taking points in this game appears crucial for their Champions League aspirations.

Read: FA baulked at Redknapp’s compensation, claims Coyle>

Read: Good news: Fabrice Muamba will attend Bolton match tomorrow>

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TheScore Team

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