Tottenham versus Arsenal: Last year’s spring collapse in Premier League spurs Tottenham on, claims Andre Villas‑Boas


Andre Villas-Boas has revealed that his Tottenham players are driven this season by the memory of their spring collapse last year.

Spurs had a 10-point lead over Arsenal last February but blew it, losing 5-2 at the Emirates, finishing fourth and missing out on Champions League football because of Chelsea’s unlikely triumph in the competition. But Spurs went third on Monday night and can extend their lead over fifth-placed Arsenal to seven points with victory in the North London derby tomorrow afternoon.

“It is also down to what they have suffered in the past and what they want to achieve in the future,” said Villas-Boas yesterday, explaining the emotional celebrations after the 3-2 win at West Ham United on Monday.

“It’s never easy when they finish in the position that they did, qualifying for the Champions League in fourth spot and seeing it taken away from them because it’s the rules. It’s difficult for them because of the distance they had in the beginning. Everybody learns from experience. The Spurs players who felt that in their skin definitely take it as an example.”

Spurs’ run to third has been inspired by Gareth Bale, who has scored eight of their last 10 goals, almost all of them excellent and crucial strikes. Such was the club’s fine form last month that Villas-Boas was announced Premier League Manager of the Month and Bale named Player of the Month for February yesterday.

Arsenal could be said to lack a main goalscorer but Wenger was not envious of Spurs, saying he would rather have a team with evenly shared scoring.

“At the moment I feel we can score from many positions and I prefer that, personally,” Wenger insisted. “You will tell me, ideally you want both. But we have many players who can score. Walcott can score, Giroud can score, Cazorla can score, I think Wilshere will score as well, so we have many players – Podolski can score. We have many players.”

Robin van Persie scored 30 of Arsenal’s 74 Premier League goals last season and Wenger said he longer had to worry about that dependency. “I think we have scored more goals than last year and last year our efficiency was always depending on Van Persie,” he said. “I always worried about the day Van Persie gets injured.”

Villas-Boas, though, shrugged off any suggestion that he was managing a “one-man team”, saying that it was natural for good teams to rely on good players. “I can do nothing about it, it makes no difference to me,” he said. “If you look at Messi, he has scored 91 goals [last year]. If you take that away, you will see where Barcelona finish in the league.”

The Tottenham manager was delighted with how Bale has flourished since moving from the left wing to a central attacking position.

“Fortunately for us we were able to discover this form that he has playing through the middle. In the beginning of the season we tested it and he had never played before as a striker and he managed to adapt to that and it is a credit to the player and his talent as in one month he has been able to change from one position to perform at this level.”

Villas-Boas also identifies a change in his own performance. A year ago on Monday he was sacked by Chelsea, but with Spurs doing so well he was asked yesterday if he had improved since then. “Myself, a lot, I think a lot; the experience has served me well,” he said. “You always learn from your mistakes and you try to improve on those mistakes. Your man-management, your preparation for the game and your training sessions, everything is experience.”

If Arsenal, who will miss the injured Bacary Sagna, win tomorrow they will move to just one point behind Tottenham with 10 games left and Wenger is relishing the opportunity to recreate last season’s late surge. “The game on Sunday will have a psychological importance for the rest of the season, of course,” he said. “The way we will play on Sunday will have a big impact on the rest of the season.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific