Spurs star: Why derby triumph proves we can finish above Arsenal

PUBLISHED: 12:08 04 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:08 04 March 2013

Michael Dawson celebrates the derby victory over Arsenal at the final whistle

Michael Dawson celebrates the derby victory over Arsenal at the final whistle

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Michael Dawson says the qualities that Tottenham showed in their derby victory over Arsenal proves they are primed to hold onto their seven-point lead and finish above the Gunners.

Dawson captained Spurs to a 2-1 triumph over their north London rivals at White Hart Lane yesterday, avenging the 5-2 defeat from the previous meeting at the Emirates.

But the 29-year-old was just as pleased with the manner of the victory, the mental fortitude that the hosts displayed, and what it means for the run-in in the fight for the top four.

“I enjoyed it, beating the rivals was a nice feeling. It wasn’t so nice at the Emirates so we savoured that moment,” said Dawson.

“Losing any football match is painful but getting beaten away like we did, that hurt us. I know it hurt the fans too but this was a massive three points and I’m sure the fans will enjoy it as much as we did.

“Is there more belief this year? Yes definitely. It’s normally us having all of the ball at home, but credit to Arsenal. They’re a top team and we didn’t have much of the ball for the first 20 minutes - but we showed grit and determination.

“We held our shape and we went in at half-time 2-0 up so that was nice, and when we gave them the goal so early in the second half we showed the fighting spirit and commitment that you need to win matches. This has put us in a good position but there is an awful lot of football to be played.”

While Dawson put in a typically lion-hearted performance against Arsenal, it was his defensive partner Jan Vertonghen who stole the show, picking up the man of the match award after choosing Tottenham over the Gunners in the summer.

“He’s been brilliant,” said Dawson. “He has everything in his game. He can score goals and you saw the tackles he can make.

“He’s a centre-half that wants to play and his feet are unbelievable. He’s a top defender and the man of the match award was well-deserved. He’s a top guy and a great player.

“We have a good squad of centre-backs here. Younes [Kaboul] is coming back into training, we have William [Gallas], myself, [Steven] Caulker and Jan so the manager has some big decisions, but I’m sure he will enjoy them. The competition and quality are high and it makes everyone want to do well.

“We always try to improve. You can’t stand still in football because teams move on. We have a fantastic squad in that dressing room, everyone is hungry to do well and that is massively important.

“It’s a great group. They are great lads to work with on a daily basis and we want to achieve things.”

Dawson found himself out of favour at the start of the season but has since proven his worth, starting 13 of Spurs’ last 16 Premier League games - and the Lilywhites have not lost any of those matches.

Meanwhile, his manager Andre Villas-Boas has also seized his second chance at Tottenham. The 35-year-old was sacked by Chelsea a year ago today, on March 4 2012, and his Spurs side are now sitting two points ahead of the Blues.

“Football is a funny thing,” said Dawson. “I didn’t play football for the first three months and now I am playing. The manager had a hard time at Chelsea and he has come here and things have gone great, and long may it continue.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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