Redknapp harbours title aspirations
Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp believes his team can strengthen their position in the title race this week by securing a place in the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Following the dramatic 3-2 victory at the Emirates Stadium yesterday, their first away to Arsenal since 1993, Redknapp was adamant that Spurs could challenge for Chelsea's Premier League crown.
He feels victory against Werder Bremen at White Hart Lane on Wednesday would benefit his side as they would qualify from Group A with a match to spare and be able to forget about European football until February.
"The Champions League game is a great game to look forward to now, we will be through if we win and can have a run in the league," he said. "We have Liverpool and Birmingham coming up and they will be tough games, they are all difficult ones and there are no easy ones in this division."
The amount of evenly matched teams in the Premier League is one of the reasons why Redknapp insists his team can win the title.
"This league is wide open this season," Redknapp said. "Chelsea are not as good as they were and neither are Manchester United. They are still excellent teams but before they were invincible. Tottenham are getting closer, I told that to the players on Friday. I wouldn't say it if we had a bad group of players. It's difficult to do but not impossible to win the title."
Spurs, however, did not look like potential champions when they went behind to Arsenal following goals by Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh. But Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart got Spurs back level before Younes Kaboul grabbed a late winner for the visitors.
It capped off a great week for Kaboul after receiving a call-up to the France squad as cover for Philippe Mexes. Redknapp has been impressed with Kaboul and how he has developed alongside William Gallas, who was handed the captaincy on his first return to Arsenal.
"William was outstanding," said Redknapp. "I made him captain and his performance was great. He's a nice quiet guy and just gets on with it - but I don't know where we would be without him. It's really helped Younes Kaboul, having him alongside him."
Van der Vaart spoke afterwards about Spurs closing the gap on their neighbours. "Tottenham is a great club, Arsenal have great players but I'm happy here and today we were better," said the Netherlands midfielder. "It was my first time here and it was not bad, I know Tottenham didn't win here much in the past so it was a great day for the club."
Worryingly for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, he identified a lack of focus from his team as the reason for their surrending of a two-goal half-time lead. "We could not maintain focus or urgency for 90 minutes, some players dropped," said the Frenchman.
"We can only look at ourselves. What is difficult to accept is getting caught on the counter attack. We had plenty of chances to score a third goal but overall Tottenham always remained dangerous on the counter attack. Maybe the players were slow to react to their substitutions."