Andre Villas-Boas fears Arsenal's probable early exit from the Champions League will shatter Tottenham Hotspur's dream of qualifying for the most prestigious club competition in the game.
The Gunners' difficulties in Europe have delighted supporters of their north London rivals. Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday, leaving them on the verge of being knocked out.
With Arsenal also out of the FA Cup, Tottenham could feel they are favourites to clinch fourth place and qualify for the Champions League. Yet before tomorrow night's decisive Europa League tie in Lyons, in which they must avoid defeat to reach the last 16, Villas-Boas was wary.
"Tuesday was a great disappointment for Arsenal, but it doesn't help the challenge we have to play against them," said Villas-Boas, whose side will face Internazionale or Cluj if they advance. "They will put even more focus on the Premier League.
"In an ideal world, to have Arsenal continue in that competition and get tired playing in the Champions League would be better for us. We want to be happy with British teams going forward in the competition, but the north London rivalry is very special."
Gareth Bale's outstanding recent form has seen him score all of his team's last six goals, bringing seven league points and the 2-1 advantage they take into tomorrow night's second leg.
They now need more from Emmanuel Adebayor. He scored 18 times while on loan from Manchester City last season but since his £5m move last summer, he has scored only three in 20 games. With Jermain Defoe out for at least the next two matches, Adebayor is Spurs' only fit senior forward.
"We are doing everything we can to try to unlock Adebayor's full potential," said Villas-Boas.
Spurs supporters were tonight attacked in a Lyons city centre pub by masked men, leaving two injured. Eyewitnesses said Tottenham security staff arrived on the scene shortly after the attack to try to calm the situation. The trouble was not thought to be football-related.
Tottenham supporters were also attacked in Rome before their match against Lazio in November.
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