• Premier League

Revenge not the priority for Vertonghen

ESPN staff
March 1, 2013
Jan Vertonghen realises the importance of the forthcoming north London derby © Getty Images

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen has warned his side the thirst for revenge over Arsenal cannot be the primary focus for Spurs in Sunday's crucial north London derby at White Hart Lane.

Vertonghen, 25, has admitted the 5-2 defeat against the Gunners at Emirates Stadium back in November was a low point in his first season as a Tottenham player, but he is keen to insist the prize at stake is worth far more than the desire to maintain derby bragging rights.

"We want to win this game not just because of revenge, but because we want to beat Arsenal anyway, we want to stay in the third position and to keep our good run going," Vertonghen told the Tottenham website.

"We have 11 matches left and every game is a cup final now. We all know what happened last season. We are all determined to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League because we all believe this team is ready for it and deserve it."

Vertonghen refers to the end of season collapse that cost Tottenham a spot in Europe's elite competition for this season, yet he is convinced the demons of the past will not come back to haunt his team-mates in the final few weeks of this campaign.

Citing the Gunners as "maybe the biggest threat to our hopes of a top four finish", the Belgian defender is eager to avoid the chastening experience he experienced after his first North London derby.

"We started very well, were the better team for the first 15 minutes, scored a good goal, but then the red card (for Emmanuel Adebayor) changed everything," he said.

"We were 3-1 down at half-time and tried everything to still win the game. We started the second half with three at the back and we played well considering the situation, pressed them, created chances and it was a shame we couldn't score our second goal a little earlier.

"It was such a pity because 11 against 11 and I think we'd have got a positive result. They are a good team capable of winning any game, but we feel strong, very confident and we have players of exceptional quality.

"Gareth Bale is flying now, but before that it was Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele. Everyone has had a good season and even when one or two of us haven't had the best game, there are other players who can do it. Our squad is amazing."

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