Redknapp fate back in hands of rival Roy

In one of those peculiar, yet typically frequent, twists of footballing fate, Harry Redknapp now needs a favour from the last man who, little over a week ago, represented his biggest rival.

Although Tottenham fought back here from a goal deficit with 10 men to earn their point, this was by far a better result for Aston Villa, who all but rubber-stamped their Premier League survival.

Arsenal’s draw against Norwich 24 hours earlier meant victory for Redknapp’s team would enable them to regain the initiative and climb above their north London rivals into the third position which guarantees entry into Europe’s elite competition next season.

Instead, they find themselves in fourth, a point adrift of the Gunners, going into next weekend’s final round of fixtures. The script could barely have been better written.

Redknapp finds himself relying on West Brom handing Hodgson a rousing farewell by at least denying Arsenal victory in what is his final game before he takes up the England post for which his Tottenham counterpart had long been favourite.

Further intrigue is added by the fact Martin Jol, the former Spurs manager, brings his Fulham team to White Hart Lane.

“If we can win next week, Arsenal could well draw, it wouldn’t surprise you,” said Redknapp, who insisted it was a scenario he would have settled for come the start of the weekend.

“Arsenal have suddenly gone off the boil a little bit. It’s all to play for. It will be exciting. I won’t be ringing Roy, I’ve already rung him [about England]. Fulham is a tough game for us, Martin Jol won’t be coming back to Tottenham wanting to help us.”

Villa, meanwhile, are three points clear of 18th-placed Bolton and have a 17-goal advantage over the Trotters, virtually assuring them of their top-flight status.

Whether it is sufficient to save McLeish remains to be seen and supporters greeted the final whistle with further calls for the Scot to be sacked.

He remains defiant. “You never know, but I would expect to be here next season and I hope to win over the dissenting Villa fans. We have to get a consistently winning team on the pitch.”

That horizon currently looks a long way off. Villa are now nine without a victory and only bottom club Wolves have won fewer top-flight matches this term.

Their profligacy was evident again early on when a wayward pass from Kyle Walker was intercepted by Stephen Ireland, who sent Emile Heskey clean through, however the striker’s hesitation allowed Younes Kaboul the time to make a recovery tackle.

What Villa needed was a slice of fortune and they got just that in the 35th minute.

Charles N’Zogbia fed Ciaran Clark 25 yards from goal and his strike took a wicked deflection off the shoulder of William Gallas and sailed beyond the wrong-footed Brad Friedel.

As on so many occasions this season, they had Shay Given to thank for a superb save to tip a Gareth Bale strike around the post at full stretch, while Spurs fans, at the opposite end of the field, momentarily thought Rafael Van der Vaart had scored with a shot which curled inches past the right post.

A further setback arrived for the visitors within four minutes of the restart when Danny Rose was dismissed for a lunge on Alan Hutton which forced the Scotland international off.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Redknapp’s team dominated, however Villa only had themselves to blame for the equaliser.

The otherwise excellent Richard Dunne, who now looks to be closing in on full fitness ahead of Euro 2012, dived in unnecessarily on Sandro inside the penalty area, with Emmanuel Adebayor sending Given the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.

Confirmation of just how costly the result was for Spurs will arrive next Sunday.


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