Tottenham must beat Liverpool in order to qualify for Champions League, says Jan Vertonghen
Victory over Everton at the weekend moves Spurs into fifth position
Monday 10 February 2014
Jan Vertonghen is enjoying life under Tim Sherwood but fears Tottenham will miss out on a Champions League berth should they fail to win at Liverpool next month.
The fourth-placed Reds' 5-1 mauling of Arsenal on Saturday put extra pressure on Spurs and fellow Champions League hopefuls Everton when they met little over 24 hours later at White Hart Lane.
Emmanuel Adebayor's strike proved the difference as Sherwood's side picked up a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 victory, which saw them usurp Roberto Martinez's side in fifth and move within three points of Liverpool.
Spurs will hope to close the gap further with a positive result at Newcastle on Wednesday, but defender Vertonghen already has half an eye on what could prove a decisive clash with the Reds at Anfield on March 30.
"We probably need a win, so we will go for that," the Belgium international said.
"It was a bad day for us when we lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool in December but that game didn't reflect our strengths compared with theirs.
"We beat them at home last year and we went 2-1 up at Anfield last March, where we were the better side (Spurs eventually lost 3-2). That was one of our better performances last season.
"But we can do much better than we did against Everton. We play at Newcastle on Wednesday but then we have the time to train before we play Norwich and that's the most important thing.
"We need to work on our shape and our movement and then the sharpness will be there. Tim now has a chance to work on our shape. Until now, he has done a very good job. The club and the players believe in him."
Those sentiments were echoed last week by frontman Adebayor, who praised Sherwood for reinstating him following Andre Villas-Boas' departure.
The 29-year-old was marginalised by the Portuguese during the first half of the campaign, but has impressed under the new head coach, scoring six goals in nine Premier League matches.
"Adebayor is back and has been unbelievable," Vertonghen said. "Just one player coming in can sometimes affect the team.
"When we played Liverpool and lost 5-0 (in Villas-Boas's last match at the helm), we had a lot of injuries and sometimes a manager can be unlucky.
"Of course, he had the Adebayor thing and some difficult business to take care of.
"We lost against the big teams and that is why we couldn't compete for the top-three places."
The top-four race looks to be a three-way battle between Tottenham and the two Merseyside clubs.
Everton will look to get back on track when Crystal Palace visit Goodison Park on Wednesday, with Martinez planning to use the disappointment of defeat in north London as catalyst for victory.
"It is important we focus now on Crystal Palace and we will try to get rid of the frustration in that performance," the Spaniard said.
"There are many games left and there will be many twists and turns. What we can't do is get too disappointed by the scoreline.
"Obviously we want to win games but our performance merited a good scoreline. When you do that it is a matter of keeping playing good football and the points will come."
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