Gary Mabbutt hails Tottenham's excellent start to 2008

IT S been an excellent start to the new year for Tottenham – despite last Sunday s exit from the FA Cup at Old Trafford. We ve finally ended the Arsenal jinx after 21 games and reached our first Wembley final for nine years – the Carling Cup against Chel

IT'S been an excellent start to the new year for Tottenham - despite last Sunday's exit from the FA Cup at Old Trafford.

We've finally ended the Arsenal jinx after 21 games and reached our first Wembley final for nine years - the Carling Cup against Chelsea next month.

We emerged from Christmas in good form, scoring 15 goals. Although it was disappointing not to have beaten Reading at home in the FA Cup we did a professional job in the replay.

I was in South Africa for the first leg of the Carling semi against Arsenal at The Emirates but from what I've heard and read we outplayed them and deserved to win. I made sure I was back for the second leg last week - and what a game.

Before the match I must admit I was a little nervous. I knew Arsenal would show strong resolve regardless of who they played - and, make no mistake, it was a strong Arsenal squad.

Over the last seven or eight years we have been in winning positions against them and for whatever reason, perhaps that extra bit of belief, we failed to finish them off.

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This time it was different. Arsene Wenger was right afterwards when he said the 5-1 scoreline did not reflect the game - it should have been 8-1 to Spurs.

The best thing for me was from the start Spurs went at Arsenal. We outbattled them, we outfought them and outplayed them. The scoreline was only flattering to Arsenal. The atmosphere before the game at the Lane was something I had not savoured for some time and, given the performance of the players and the result, it was one of those evenings that is few and far between.

Having Ledley King back is a huge bonus to everyone at the club. He gives stability to the whole defence. I know the manager has been working very hard in training on the defence and it is starting to show. We have stopped conceding the soft goals that dogged us in the early part of the season.

I also was delighted to see Robbie Keane score his 100th goal for the club. I've been singing Robbie's praises all season. He has grown in statue at the club and has taken it on under the new manager.

Robbie has been excellent, especially in the early part of the season, when we were without Ledley and the team was struggling. With Ledley back we now have two or three captains on the field.

There was more good news when the club revealed that Dimitar Berbatov would not be leaving during the January transfer window.

With a player like Berba there is always going to be speculation. He had the chance to leave in the summer but stayed and again could have gone in this month's window but is staying.

Berba is an exceptional player and the sort of player we have to keep hold of if we want to win things and challenge the top four. It is all very positive as is the arrival of Jonathan Woodgate.

At the other end of the scale it was great to see young Jamie O'Hara grab his chance to impress after being out on loan. Jamie is becoming an excellent player and showed again on Sunday at Old Trafford what a sound player he is when asked to fill in.

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