Tottenham's season will likely be made or broken during a run of seven fixtures which includes matches against Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City, yet defender Jan Vertonghen is in confident mood and says his team can “beat anyone”
The Tottenham defender has been talking up his side's chances of qualifying for the Champions League and has backed Spurs to finish above London rivals Chelsea come the end of the season, report The Evening Standard.
Spurs are only one point behind their London rivals and can move into third, if only for a few hours, with a win against Newcastle at White Hart Lane in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
Yet it is the run of fixtures over a seven-week period in March and April that promise to be the most telling in Andre Villas-Boas' bid to guide Tottenham into the top four.
Even though Spurs’ results this season against opponents near the top of the Premier League table have been poor, Vertonghen is confident they will reverse that trend. He said: “We will be happy with fourth place but we’re only one point behind Chelsea, so we have to aim as high as possible.
“We have a home game against Newcastle on Saturday, so why not? I’ve played against all the biggest teams in the League and we can beat anybody.”
The form of Gareth Bale will be crucial to Spurs’ progress. The Welshman has had an excellent season and his influence appears to be growing, with his superb goals in recent away matches at Norwich and West Brom delivering four points for the team.
So impressive has Bale been that Spurs are likely to have to fight to hang on to him in the summer, especially if they fail to qualify for the Champions League. Bale models his game on that of Cristiano Ronaldo and although Vertonghen believes the Portuguese winger and Lionel Messi remain a cut above the rest, he says Bale is not too far behind.
“After Ronaldo and Messi, you have a lot of players who are very close to each other and Gareth Bale is one of those,” Vertonghen told Sky Sports. “He is a world-class player and he could play for any team in the world.”
Bale began life as a left-back but it appears he has left the position behind for good. In recent seasons, Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been first choice in the role at Spurs but the Cameroon international’s knee injury has given head coach Andre Villas-Boas a headache.
Both Vertonghen and Kyle Naughton have been used at left-back and although Assou-Ekotto is now fit, Villas-Boas is thought to have been impressed by Danny Rose’s performances on loan at Sunderland this season, where he has made 19 appearances.
Rose has struggled to establish himself at White Hart Lane in the three-and-a-half years since he made his first-team debut and the 22-year-old has made it clear that if a return to White Hart Lane does not mean regular football, he has little interest in returning.
“I’m not prepared to go back and sit on the bench,” he told the Northern Echo. “I’ve done that enough. I’ve got friends in the England team and making progress in the squads and I like to think that one day I’ll have a shot at that.
“I’ll only do that when I’m playing every week and that’s what I’m doing at Sunderland now. Maybe it will happen next season. If I do go back to Tottenham, it would be a shame for me not to get the sort of experience I have been getting here.”