AVB ready for tough Toon tie
Published 08/11/2013 | 14:21
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes his players are starting to come to terms with teams shutting up shop at White Hart Lane but feels Newcastle will travel to north London looking to play on Sunday.
Thursday's Europa League group game at home to Sheriff Tiraspol was another example of a visiting team looking to defend from the back and make it difficult for Tottenham's attacking talent to break them down.
Spurs have started to show signs in recent weeks that they possess the ability to break down the most rigid defence as they look to challenge for honours following a summer of heavy investment in the squad.
Erik Lamela opened the scoring after an hour and Jermain Defoe smashed home a penalty to move clear of Martin Chivers as the club's all-time top goalscorer in European competition as Spurs booked their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a 2-1 win.
Hull also ran Spurs close two weeks ago with a contentious Roberto Soldado spot-kick proving the difference and Villas-Boas expects his players to become even more adept at facing the new challenge in the coming weeks.
"It hasn't been easy for us to try and break in behind but we will persist as this is the way we want to move forward," he said.
"Hopefully we can one day manage to do more combinations that will lead to more goals being created.
"It is very, very difficult for a team to hold on defensively due to the amount of time we have the ball.
"They have to make a great physical effort that eventually you manage to get in. It happened again against Sheriff, we had so much of the ball in the first half and created so much that I think in the second half they tired and we got in to more space to score the goals.
"It is not easy to find the spaces, you need people to start taking on opponents to start unlocking them. We need to take risks, unlocking defences is probably a part of our game where we have to work."
Newcastle have not won in the league at White Hart Lane since a 4-1 victory in 2008 but currently sit ninth in the Barclays Premier League having beaten Chelsea last weekend.
Villas-Boas is expecting another tough assignment on Sunday, even if he feels Alan Pardew's side could be one of the few teams who look to play their natural game.
"Whatever strategy works for them is fine," he said.
"We just have to make sure we are up to our level, we weren't for example in the game against West Ham, we hope to be solid and create as much as we can.
"I'm not sure what their strategy will be, Newcastle have a great team full of gifted, technical players so I expect them to play against us.
"They are a very, very difficult team to predict their starting XI, they have lots of quality options and they have been trying different types of formation, even with a false striker.
"Alan is a manager who prepares well for the games so it won't be easy for us."
Spurs could move to within two points of league-leaders and fierce rivals Arsenal with a win on Sunday as the Gunners kick-off at Manchester United later in the day.
But Villas-Boas knows Newcastle have the talent to provide a threat and will be buoyed by their 2-0 win over Chelsea.
"They are now picking up great results," the Portuguese added. "They are always a team that want to be in the competition for the teams that qualify for Europe. That is probably their expectancy given the investment they do every year.
"They come here with a victory, the highest morale-boosting victory possible and they will come here full of motivation and it won't be in any way easy for us.
"They have lots of good, good players but overall I think they will have the motivation of beating Chelsea and coming now to play this game against us."