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Villas-Boas expects a top-four dogfight

Updated: 2013-04-09 05:49
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

 Villas-Boas expects a top-four dogfight

West Ham United's James Tomkins (right) talks to Liverpool's Steven Gerrard after a challenge in the penalty area during their English Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England on Sunday. Nigel Roddis / Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas believes the race for the top four will go down to the wire, and he admits Spurs' showdowns with Manchester City and Chelsea could define its campaign.

Spurs dropped from third to fourth place after being held to a 2-2 draw by Everton at White Hart Lane on Sunday, with its fate now out of its hands.

While Villas-Boas' men still sit in the Champions League qualification spots, fifth-place Arsenal is just two points behind with a game in hand.

Sixth-place Everton cannot be discounted either, and Villas-Boas concedes the clashes between the four sides are likely to be decisive.

"It could go down to the wire. That's my reading of the situation," he said. "We have had an advantage that we lost, and now we are in the frame.

"The positive aspect for us is that we have been in this position before, when we have been chasing, and we've done well. Arsenal's game in hand is against Everton, so something is going to happen there in relation to the way the teams are (positioned).

"Everton probably have the toughest calendar out of all of the teams and we probably have the second-worst calendar, with Manchester City and Chelsea (to play).

"I think it depends on those games, the results against City and Chelsea. Obviously we have to get the most amount of points as possible, but it definitely looks as if it's going to be between these teams, and it will go down to the last two fixtures."

Emmanuel Adebayor gave Spurs the lead in the 34th second against Everton, but the Toffees hit back through Phil Jagielka.

Kevin Mirallas put the visitors ahead with a memorable solo goal in the second half, but Gylfi Sigurdsson secured a point for Tottenham with a late equalizer.

While Spurs are in European action against Swiss side Basel on Thursday, they now have a two-week break before their next Premier League fixture against City, and Villas-Boas hopes injured pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon will both be available for that.

"I think Bale should only miss this Basel game, hopefully," he said.

"Our expectation is that he will return for the Man City game - both Gareth and Lennon - but it depends how the players react to treatment."

Meanwhile, Everton manager David Moyes insists his side should not be overly disappointed with its draw at White Hart Lane, despite its inability to hold onto the lead, and feels the result is another sign of his club's progress.

"We're playing a good team but we've taken four points from Spurs this season and that's not a bad effort for Everton," he said. "There are quite big comparisons between Tottenham and Everton in a lot of ways. We're trying to hang in there.

"Does it (a point) help us? Probably not, but I said before the game that if we'd lost, I don't think we'd be out of anything.

"Everton have always been a top club and always competed, but I think in the opening 10 to 12 years in the Premier League, Everton finished in the top half once.

"In the last 10 years they've only been out of the top half once, maybe twice.

"We're much closer to the top end and that's what has to happen at Everton. We have to try to keep up with Tottenham Hotspur, with Liverpool.

"It's difficult to keep up with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, but we have to try to keep up with the clubs around us.

"That's a battle all the time but we've not done badly and we're doing the best we can."

(China Daily 04/09/2013 page22)

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