Michael Dawson: Spurs need to start winning again or we can forget about the Champions League
MICHAEL DAWSON has challenged Tottenham to end their dismal losing streak and go on another unbeaten run to secure their place in next year's Champions League.
A 12-match unbeaten sequence towards the end of 2012 meant Spurs were odds-on to qualify for the Europe's top club competition, but defeats against Liverpool and Fulham mean Spurs are now in danger of blowing their chances for a second successive year.
A defeat at Swansea tomorrow, coupled with victory for Arsenal over Reading, will put the Gunners just one point behind their rivals with a game in hand.
Another loss tomorrow will also give Villas-Boas the unwanted tag of being the first Spurs boss since David Pleat in 2004 to preside over a four-match losing run.
The Portuguese was upbeat about his team's top-four prospects yesterday, though, and his captain echoed those sentiments today.
"Everyone was disappointed with the result against Fulham but that's behind us now and we have to push on again," Dawson told Spurs TV Online.
"We showed exactly what we're capable of when we went on that unbeaten run and we've got to look to do something similar between now and the end of the season. We know it will be tough, but the determination is there."
Tomorrow's game at Swansea would have looked like one of the toughest fixtures in the calendar earlier this season, but the Welsh club's victory in the Capital One Cup final last month means they have little to play for.
Arsenal had next to no trouble beating the Swans 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium last time around, but Dawson has warned it would be foolish to underestimate Michael Laudrup's classy outfit.
"Swansea have impressed everyone again this season," Dawson added.
"They play good football and the Liberty is always a tough place to play, but we have to go there and bring back a positive result."
Dawson will be fit for the trip to Wales after overcoming a hamstring injury which cruelly ruled him out of making his first international appearance in two years last week.
His withdrawal from the England squad meant his Spurs team-mate Steven Caulker made the bench for the games against Montenegro and San Marino, and the 21-year-old, who is returning to the club where he spent last season on loan, was delighted to be involved in the England set-up again.
"It was my third trip with the squad and I'm getting that little more familiar with the lads," said Caulker, who scored on his only England appearance against Sweden in November.
"That's how your confidence grows, when you feel more comfortable you will produce better performances.
"It was a great experience. Of course, I would have loved to get on the pitch, but it's not too much of a disappointment as I know it was a trip for me to learn.
"I took a lot from it, being in and around the senior professionals and they are all friendly and welcoming. Everyone gets on well. We're at the business end of World Cup qualifying and the games really matter. I really felt part of it."
Had it not been for a successful spell in south Wales last season, Caulker would have been way down the pecking order with the Three Lions.
The 21-year-old played 26 times for then manager Brendan Rodgers, helping Swansea defy the odds to finish 11th in the Barclays Premier League.
Swansea have come on even further since Caulker left, with Laudrup guiding the club to League Cup glory, and a current position of ninth in the table.
"I had a great year there and I'm excited about returning on Saturday," the England centre-back said.
"They are always a tough team to beat and they have real belief at home but we'll be confident and go there to play our football.
"The gaffer will have his tactics spot on and it will be up to us to deliver."