COMMENTARY | Tottenham Hotspur entered Wednesday night's match at Chelsea in full control of their Champions League fate. That's no longer the case following what was a scintillating 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Spurs have every right to have their heads held high after twice fighting back while away to the (no longer) defending European champs, but they'll now need some help if they are to avoid being relegated to Europa League for what would be the third consecutive season.
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs: 2 talking points on the match itself
First off, everybody watching was reminded of how good Spurs front man Emmanuel Adebayor is when he is fully fit and, more importantly, fully motivated. Adebayor was up for it right from the opening kickoff, setting up teammates such as Kyle Walker with delicious scoring opportunities that, unfortunately for the visitors, weren't converted. After going down a goal before the quarter-hour mark, a moment of brilliance from the Togo international resulted in Spurs evening things up.
Adebayor claimed a pass on the edge of the Tottenham half of play before galloping down the pitch. Given way too much space by Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, Adebayor had time to notice that goalkeeper Petr Cech had ventured one step too far off of his line. The Tottenham man then unleashed a dazzling curler that was only landing in the far top corner.
Spurs needed Adebayor to save the day once more, and that he did in spectacular fashion ten minutes from time. Benoit Assou-Ekotto delivered a pass for the towering forward in the left portion of the penalty area, and, with Cahill forced to track the ball, Adebayor chipped a clever pass backward for the unmarked Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson had more than enough time to turn to his preferred right foot and slide home Tottenham's second equalizer of the game, a goal that seemed to take the hosts out of the action.
This match was a nearly 100-minute demonstration of why Adebayor is such a frustrating player. His talent is undeniable, and what he could still achieve despite the fact that his best days are behind him if he could be the player he was on Wednesday night is startling. This Adebayor, one who does well to hold up play and one who hits highlight reel shots like he's on the training ground, must show up in Tottenham's final two fixtures.
Another player who needs to be mentioned is Scott Parker, for both good and bad reasons. The midfielder who had recently been dropped from the first-choice lineup after a string of poor performances was absolutely abysmal in the first half. Parker lost his man on the Chelsea set piece that saw the hosts open the scoring in the eleventh minute, he was unable to keep up during the sequence that ultimately ended with Ramires finding the back of the net six minutes before halftime, and his inability to do anything of note had me believing manager Andre Villas-Boas was going to leave the veteran in the dressing room following the break.
Parker didn't just remain in the game. He found new life in the final half-hour of play. He tracked back and shut down multiple attacks, and he also did well in pressing forward. Parker even came close to producing assists on two occasions. The question has to be asked following the second half of Wednesday's game: Was this just a one-off, or did Parker find his old form after playing what was maybe the worst 45 minutes of his Tottenham career?
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs: What it means
Chelsea remain in third place, and they are now on 69 points. Arsenal are on 67 points, and Spurs are on 66. All have two Premier League games left to play. The first side able to put pressure on the other two will be Chelsea. They are away to Aston Villa on May 11. Villa, currently in fine form after having notched two straight wins, need two points to guarantee their safety. That match shouldn't be a gimme for the Blues, who will have to work to pick up the road win.
Next up are Tottenham, who will be away to Stoke City on May 12. Following Wigan's loss to Swansea City on Tuesday, Stoke are, in theory, safe. They are six points clear of 18th place Wigan, and the Potters are ahead of the Latics by +13 in goal difference.
The same Wigan side will be away to Arsenal on Tuesday. Wigan will still mathematically be alive regardless of what happens during the weekend's Premier League fixtures, and thus they'll be looking for nothing but a win at the Emirates. They do have the FA Cup Final against Manchester City on Saturday, but that's a game that should be far from their minds as they attempt to stay in the top-flight.
That leaves only May 19. Tottenham will host Sunderland, who need a positive result when they host Southampton on May 12 to know that they are safe on Survival Sunday. Arsenal will be away to a Newcastle side that could still be fighting for their Premier League lives if they drop points to already relegated QPR on May 12.
Perhaps the most interesting match of that day when it comes to the three clubs still fighting for Champions League spots is the Chelsea vs. Everton contest, especially if the Blues drop points when away to Villa. Chelsea have the Europa League Final against Benfica in Amsterdam on May 15. It could also be the final time that Everton are playing under current manager David Moyes. Moyes has been linked as the replacement for Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Ferguson announced on Wednesday that he is retiring as United manager at the conclusion of this season.
In the end, the story somewhat remains the same for Spurs. They can still technically finish as high as third and as low as even sixth if Everton pull off two impressive wins to finish the season AND Tottenham lose their last two matches. All that's changed is that Spurs need either Arsenal or Chelsea to drop points in order to earn a spot in the coveted European tournament. It's been a wacky campaign in which none of these three sides have been able to pull away from the other two.
There's no reason to believe that trend will change before May 19.
For more: Sir Alex retires
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, New York Red Bulls, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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