After the Manchester show comes another derby and one that will go a long way to determining the details of this season's coronation.
A Chelsea victory at Tottenham this evening and they could, if results go their way, be champions by the time they run out at Stamford Bridge next Sunday. But first they must face the man who, if he did not have a pressing issue of his own to contend with, might revel in the role of kingmaker.
Having outwitted Arsène Wenger on Wednesday, and ended their title hopes, Harry Redknapp will send his side out against Chelsea today and then in a week's time at Old Trafford. His results can settle the Premier League, but more importantly to Redknapp they can also settle the race for fourth that is, if anything, more compelling. Roberto Mancini believes that City face the five most important games in their history – finishing in fourth and opening the door to the Champions League is that important.
"We are in there," said Redknapp yesterday. "At least we have got something to play for at this time of the year. We have a great chance still of finishing fourth. If we can knock [Chelsea] over and Manchester United win as well it opens everything up again. Then we go to Old Trafford.
"Man United are going to want us to beat Chelsea and we are all Man United fans because we want them to beat Man City. We all need results but to keep getting our own as well."
Victory at White Hart Lane on Wednesday has reinvigorated Tottenham following successive defeats by Sunderland, in the Premier League, and Portsmouth in the FA Cup, and it is that lack of consistency that, like City, still dogs them.
"Tottenham haven't played with continuity, but have played football with very good quality," said Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea's manager. "They are a team that like to play. They have very good players with a lot of quality. Sometimes they have had very good performances. Like on Wednesday. But three days before they had lost an unbelievable game against Portsmouth.
"I was surprised at their performance against Arsenal because they reacted well after the Portsmouth defeat and played a strong match. So, with more consistency, Tottenham could be higher up in the table. I think we have to assume we'll be playing against the best Tottenham team."
Redknapp acknowledges the frustrations of the last couple of weeks. "It can turn can't it?" he said. "It's like everything in life. We get beat on Sunday and I am suicidal. We win against Arsenal on Wednesday and I am lifted again. That's how life is. You never know what's going to happen one day to the next. That's why you've got to enjoy the good days."
Chelsea have enjoyed a good couple of weeks, following their victory at Old Trafford, by securing a place in the Cup final and stretching their lead at the top of the table to four points.
"We are in a very good position, but nothing is decided," said Ancelotti. "I've been working in football for 30 years and it's not sure until you have won. For now, we've not won.
"In the games, there is pressure. But we're in a good position. If we are not relaxed, how are the other coaches coping behind us?" Redknapp is having to cope with further injury problems at a particularly inopportune moment – Ancelotti's are actually easing with Ashley Cole set to sit on the bench today. Redknapp's players are suffering the effects of 120 minutes on Wembley's sapping, and slippy, turf as well as their frenzied efforts in the north London derby.
Niko Kranjcar is out for the rest of the campaign having damaged ankle ligaments against Portsmouth. Aaron Lennon is not yet ready to return, although Ledley King may play some part. "I could not even pick a team today," said Redknapp. "A couple of key players have gone down this morning. One [Jermaine Jenas] has a virus and had to go home, feeling really ill. And one has done a groin. It's not ideal." He would not reveal the player's identity, instead it was back to trying to work out what the next couple of weeks has in store for the men who would be king, and their courtiers.
"We have won six out of the last seven in the League so if we can continue that we'll have no problems, although they don't come any tougher than Chelsea," said Redknapp. "Probably you are going to need to win two and draw two, take eight points. That's the minimum, you may need more.
"Chelsea have got themselves in a great position but it's not all over yet. It is a big day again. Manchester United have got to win at Manchester City to stay in it and we need to beat Chelsea to keep pushing for fourth spot. I'm sure after that we will have a much clearer picture of what's going to happen."Reuse content