Van der Vaart urges Spurs to raise game for weaker sides

Rafael van der Vaart has cautioned his Tottenham Hotspur team-mates that they risk losing ground in their push for a top-four finish unless they start to improve their record against the Premier League's weaker teams.

Spurs head into the festive period in fifth position on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions, which stretches back to the start of November. The Londoners' outlook could have been much brighter had they not been defeated by the likes of West Ham United and Wigan Athletic, both of whom sit inside the relegation zone.

Van der Vaart has been encouraged by Spurs' performances in draws against more fancied teams such as Manchester City and Chelsea and the win over Arsenal, but insists the team must beat the division's poorer sides to ensure qualification for next year's Champions League. Looking ahead to Spurs' games against Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Fulham and Everton over the festive period, the Dutchman said: "We have to win our games and have confidence that we will be in the top four. There are a lot of good teams but we play well against the big teams and [against] some of the small clubs we have our problems."

Van der Vaart will be fit to play in the Boxing Day game at Villa Park having recovered from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past three weeks.

The 27-year-old, who has made a stunning impact since his summer move from Real Madrid, scored both goals in Spurs' 2-1 win over Villa at White Hart Lane in October and is convinced that he and his team-mates will beat Gérard Houllier's beleaguered side.

"I played there [at Villa Park] once with the national team against England. It's a nice stadium and they are a great team," he said. "I expect a difficult match but we're going to win."

* Spurs' recently postponed trip to Blackpool has been rescheduled for 8pm on Tuesday 22 February.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map