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Villas-Boas fears Arsenal backlash in top-four fight

Jamie Holland

Published 21/02/2013 | 04:00

Andre Villas-Boas fears that Arsenal's probable early exit from the Champions League will shatter Tottenham Hotspur's dream of qualifying for the most prestigious club competition in the game.

With Arsenal also out of the FA Cup, Tottenham could feel they are favourites to clinch fourth place and qualify for the Champions League. Yet before tonight's Europa League tie in Lyon, in which they must avoid defeat to reach the last 16, Villas-Boas was wary.

"Tuesday was a great disappointment for Arsenal, but it doesn't help the challenge we face against them," said Villas-Boas, whose side will face Internazionale or Cluj if they advance. "They will put even more focus on the Premier League."

Villas-Boas is wise to be cautious. After tonight's game, they resume Premier League duties at West Ham on Monday. Thereafter, five of Spurs' next seven league fixtures are against Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Gareth Bale's outstanding form has seen him score all of his team's last six goals, bringing seven league points and the 2-1 lead they take into tonight's second leg.

They now need more from Emmanuel Adebayor. He scored 18 times while on loan from Manchester City last season but since his £5m move last summer, he has scored only three in 20 games.

With Jermain Defoe out for at least two more matches, Adebayor is Spurs' only fit senior forward.

Lyon v Tottenham,

Live, ITV 4/Setanta Irl, 6.0

Irish Independent

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