Harry's warning for Big Four: We're coming to get you!
THE GLOVES finally came off on Saturday as Harry Redknapp and Ledley King admitted that Spurs have their sights set on Champions League qualification this season. The manager and players had previously been reluctant to announce their intentions...
By Ben Pearce
THE GLOVES finally came off on Saturday as Harry Redknapp and Ledley King admitted that Spurs have their sights set on Champions League qualification this season.
The manager and players had previously been reluctant to announce their intentions, sticking to the party line and repeating that their early-season success was "just a good start, nothing more".
With nine games gone now, effectively a quarter of the season, that understandable early-season caution was beginning to wear thin.
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But, following the victory over Portsmouth, Redknapp admitted that his side are targeting a top-four finish in May.
"We have to believe and we've got to have a go. That is the aim and I can't keep saying we can't. This is the year the top teams are getting beaten," he said.
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"Other years it's been different but Chelsea and Liverpool have been beaten this weekend. Liverpool only lost twice last year in the league.
"There are teams now who, on their better days, can knock the top sides over, so I think the league is getting closer.
"Aston Villa got a great result against Chelsea and are going to be there, Manchester City can achieve anything with that squad. We can look to push and be around that top group all season."
Meanwhile, King conceded that he and his team-mates have been keeping an eye on the Big Four's results, and were thrilled to hear that Spurs' victory had coincided with defeats for both Chelsea and Liverpool.
Critics will argue that Tottenham are getting carried away with their early-season success, and that a narrow victory over the league's bottom club is hardly an achievement to trumpet.
Disappointing defeats - and performances - against both Manchester United and Chelsea also suggest that the Lilywhites are still trailing in the wake of the Premier League's elite.
However, Tottenham do not have to beat the top four to finish in the top four, and fans have every reason to believe that this could be the year.
Firstly, Spurs are currently in third place, just three points behind leaders Manchester United, having already played three of the Big Four.
Redknapp's side are hardly title contenders, but they could not be more involved in the race for the Champions League spots.
Spurs' current position is strong to say the least, and the fact that they have achieved it without Luka Modric and Jonathan Woodgate, who were key players in the second half of last season, is also notable.
Meanwhile Liverpool look vulnerable are currently struggling badly, having lost four of their opening nine league fixtures. Better yet, they host Manchester United this weekend.
It is hardly inconceivable that Rafael Benitez's side will lose that one too, and if Tottenham were to beat Stoke City at White Hart Lane, that would hand Redknapp's outfit a seven-point lead with 10 games played each.
Meanwhile Everton, who were expected to be involved in the race, already seem to be out of contention.
Of course, Aston Villa and Manchester City remain serious threats and, while City have been well-publicised, Villa have also beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea so far.
The battle looks set to be thrillingly intense, but history suggests that this is Spurs' best ever chance.
Tottenham have never taken more than 19 points from their first 10 games in the Premier League, which started 17 years ago in 1992.
In fact, Spurs took 19 points from a possible 30 in 2005/06 - when they finished fifth, one agonising point behind Arsenal.
Even a draw against Stoke on Saturday will beat that record total, and provide further evidence that Spurs are serious contenders this season.