Spurs star: Why England saga can now help us to beat Arsenal to third
Younes Kaboul believes that the England manager saga could finally work in Tottenham’s favour on the last day of the season.
Many fans and pundits feel that the protracted speculation over Fabio Capello’s successor has undermined Spurs’ campaign – and Harry Redknapp has admitted that some of his coaches agree.
When Redknapp was the favourite for the Three Lions post, the Lilywhites took just 12 points from a possible 33, throwing away a 10-point lead over Arsenal and dropping from third place to fifth.
Now, as the climactic end to the season approaches, Tottenham are hoping that Arsenal slip up at Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion and give Spurs one last shot at reclaiming the third spot.
Kaboul feels the Baggies are fully capable of getting a result against the Gunners at The Hawthorns – and he believes that Hodgson’s imminent departure for his new job with England could be a big factor at the weekend.
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“Of course West Brom are capable of taking points of Arsenal,” said Kaboul. “What I’m thinking is that, first of all, West Brom at home is very difficult, there’s a great atmosphere there.
“Also it’s going to be the last game for the manager, before he leaves for the national team, so I think the players will want to give him a win before he leaves, and I believe that it’s going to be a tough game for Arsenal.
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“But this week we have to prepare properly for our last game, and just look at ourselves and take the three points [against Fulham].
“It’s very similar to the end of last season, when we had to beat Birmingham at home on the final day – but this is much more important because last season we were playing for the Europa League. This season it’s for the Champions League.”
Given Chelsea’s involvement in the Champions League final, the difference between third and fourth place has rarely been bigger.
And Kaboul concedes that, if Tottenham finish fourth but are then denied Champions League qualification by a Chelsea triumph in Munich, Spurs’ campaign will have to be viewed as a disappointment.
“Chelsea are in the Champions League final as well, and they’re going to play to win,” said the defender. “We will see, in football anything can happen.
“To be fair if we don’t get into the Champions League it’s going to be very disappointing for us because I think we’ve had a very good season.
“I remember it was hard when we started against Manchester United and Manchester City, and after that we were very down. Then we were away for an international break, and when we came back we had a magnificent run, and we deserve the Champions League.”
Should Tottenham miss out on third or even fourth place, they may well rue their failure to beat Aston Villa in the Midlands on Sunday.
Arsenal’s inability to beat Norwich at the Emirates on Saturday had given Tottenham an enticing opportunity to leapfrog the Gunners into third place, and leave their Champions League destiny in their own hands.
But, although the Lilywhites bravely fought back from 1-0 down with 10 men to earn a draw in the second half, they failed to take their chance.
“Of course we wanted to win because of Arsenal’s result, but it’s a hard trip to go to Aston Villa and a difficult game,” said Kaboul. “I’m quite happy with the result because we could have lost. We could have won as well but it was very tight.
“I’m happy because the team spirit was there and we worked hard, so that’s the most important thing for me. It was a bit hard with 10 men but we did a great job.
“I think in the last three games we’ve shown quality football, and a very good team spirit. That’s the most important thing in a football team.
“In the squad you need to have a very good team spirit, and everyone going the same way, and that’s what we’ve done well this season, and in the last three games it was the most important thing as well.”
Tottenham’s hopes of beating the Villans suffered a major blow when Danny Rose was shown a straight red card for a tackle on his former team-mate Alan Hutton.
“Of course he was a bit upset because he’s a professional,” said Kaboul. “He knows that can happen and it’s probably not the last time. He’s got a long career in front of him, he’s a great left-back.
“Maybe he didn’t control his power, because he’s a very powerful player, but I want the video again to see exactly what happened. I heard that someone pushed him from behind so it’s a bit difficult, but the referee took his decision.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs