Tottenham the best team in north London says Rafael van der Vaart

 

Rafael van der Vaart has told Arsenal not to get carried away with their win over Chelsea and insists that Tottenham are still the best team in north London.

Arsenal shocked Chelsea with a stunning 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to move within three points of the Barclays Premier League top four.

The victory was their eighth in nine matches - a sequence that demonstrates just how much Arsene Wenger's men have turned around their season after a dismal start.

Their only defeat since that run began last month was at White Hart Lane - a fact that Van der Vaart perhaps took into consideration yesterday when he issued a stark warning to the Gunners after helping Tottenham extend their own unbeaten run to seven matches with a 3-1 win over QPR.

The Dutchman, who has now scored in a club record-equalling five successive Premier League games, thinks that despite Arsenal's recent good form, Tottenham who are the kings of north London.

"We are better than Arsenal," Van der Vaart said.

"In our last seven games we have won six and drawn once. It's a long season, but I think we have a bigger and better squad."

Chelsea and Arsenal have dominated the London scene for the last two decades, but under Harry Redknapp, Tottenham reached the Champions League quarter-finals last term, and look set to challenge for qualification to Europe's top club competition again this term after their recent good form.

Yesterday's win, which came courtesy of a Van der Vaart goal and a double from Gareth Bale, moved Spurs level on points with the Blues, who are stuck in third after losing their last two games.

Van der Vaart is so confident about Spurs' strength in depth that he thinks the club could challenge the likes of Chelsea and even Manchester United for second and third place come the end of the season.

"Are we the best team in London? Maybe, but it's still early," Van der Vaart said.

"We're in a good way. We are much better than we were last season.

"Man City is the best team in the league and below them you have a lot of good teams and we are one of them."

Despite being beset by off-the-field problems involving Carlos Tevez in recent weeks, Roberto Mancini's team have opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table, thanks mainly to a 6-1 hiding they gave the Red Devils at Old Trafford eight days ago.

Van der Vaart has been impressed with City's performances this year - they beat Tottenham 5-1 at White Hart Lane in August - although he does think the wheels could come off their title assault at any point due to the big egos in the City dressing room.

"At the moment they are really good. They are winning games easily and how they played against Man United was impressive, but they also have the difficulty of a lot of egos so that could also be a problem," the 28-year-old said.

"When you play for a big team, when they buy a lot of good players and a lot of players also aren't happy.

"Look at (Emmanuel) Adebayor. He is a great player for us, but he was not even in the squad at City and was training with the youngsters."

Despite Van der Vaart's excellent goal-scoring form, he has had to play on the right wing on a number of occasions this term thanks to an injury to Aaron Lennon.

Van der Vaart publicly voiced his concerns about playing in that position recently, prompting rumours of a rift with Redknapp, but the Holland international played down such talk yesterday, saying: "Playing behind the striker is my favourite position but when the coach needs me on the right side I can play there as well," he said.

"I played there against Arsenal and did well so it's not a problem but I'm not a player that has to chase a left-back."

PA

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