Clint Dempsey has admitted that an anxious atmosphere at White Hart Lane is threatening to derail Tottenham Hotspur's season.
Spurs have not won any of their last three home games, as they have slipped back to a precarious fourth in the Premier League and are now facing a very difficult task to reach the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday.
Dempsey, speaking after Spurs' 2-2 draw with Everton on Sunday, conceded that there was a tense atmosphere at White Hart Lane and that Spurs need to overcome it.
"That's the way it's kind of been the last few games at home," Dempsey acknowledged. "It's been tense. I've felt like that's kind of what the atmosphere's been."
When asked whether this nervousness was directly affecting Spurs, Dempsey could not be certain. "I don't know," he said. "It's something that's been there. It's been noticeable, in the last three home games."
Tottenham have not won any of those last three home games. They lost 1-0 to Fulham in the Premier League before being outplayed by FC Basle and drawing 2-2 in the Europa League. Then on Sunday they drew again by the same scoreline, needing a Gylfi Sigurdsson equaliser with three minutes left.
Dempsey said that Spurs need to ignore the tension as they try to maintain their challenge on two fronts.
"You've got to play," he said. "You've got to keep going. You've got to do everything you can to help the team win. You can only try your best.
"There are a few teams right there. It makes it more interesting for people to watch. It's a little bit more stressful but it's a good stress. At least we're pushing to try to get that spot. It's going to come to the end and, hopefully, we have enough character to get the job done."
Lewis Holtby believes that Spurs deserve to finish in the top four this season and qualify for the Champions League. "I think this team has enough quality to get in the Champions League," the midfielder said.
"If you see all the season, all the effort we have put in, I think we deserve it but it's got to be at the end. Thirty-eight games have to be played and we've got to get those points.
"I think it's about professionalism, and playing at a big club. If you play a lot of games in your career, you get that calmness as well."
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