Dembele defiant before derby

Mousa Dembele insists Tottenham have no reason to fear anyone as they prepare to face West Ham on Monday.

Last Updated: 24/02/13 at 13:38 Post Comment

Dembele: Scored vital goal against Lyon on Thursday

Dembele: Scored vital goal against Lyon on Thursday

Mousa Dembele insists Tottenham have no reason to fear anyone as they prepare to face West Ham in Monday's London derby at Upton Park.

The pressure is on Spurs to re-establish their four-point lead over Arsenal ahead of next Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane.

Last season Tottenham held a 10-point advantage over the Gunners in February, but they then fell away spectacularly and ended up missing out on Champions League qualification thanks to Chelsea's win in Munich.

Andre Villas-Boas is determined not to let the same thing happen again this term. His team have been the personification of consistency in the league, where they are unbeaten since December 9.

They also go in to Monday's game on the back of a morale-boosting win over Lyon in the Europa League - and the man who secured their progression to the last 16 on Thursday night thinks he and his team-mates are playing at the top of their game right now.

"We don't have to fear any team," said Dembele, who secured a 3-2 aggregate win with a 90th minute equaliser in the Stade de Gerland.

"People have respect for us. If you're in a winning mood it's important in the league.

"We have two more very important games coming up in the league so the confidence will stay high and that's good for us."

Given the gulf in ability between the two sides, West Ham are expected to approach the derby cautiously.

Tottenham have struggled at times to break down teams who shut up shop. They have often had to rely on the brilliance of Gareth Bale to find come away with three points, but Dembele is confident Spurs will be able to overcome their rivals on Monday regardless of the tactics they employ.

"It will be a different game to the Lyon one of course," Dembele said.

"Teams always have a lot of respect for us and they drop back so it's always difficult, but I think we need to do the difference, we have to fight for each other as well. It will be a physical game, for sure, but we are used to it and this is a special match for us and the supporters too because it is a derby."

Spurs put in a poor display in the first half on Thursday night, but regrouped to pepper the Lyon net and finally found the winning goal thanks to Dembele.

Spurs started the season with a worrying tendency to concede late on, but they have reversed that pattern in recent weeks, scoring crucial goals in the dying stages of games against Lyon (twice), Norwich, Manchester United and Newcastle.

Villas-Boas now hopes the result in Lyon, which set up a last-16 tie against Inter Milan, will inspire his team to victory at Upton Park.

"We've been having some great, great results," the 35-year-old said.

"After Europa League games we've always been good in the Premier League. I think it puts us in a good position to face West Ham.

"I don't think it's a distraction, I think it's an inspiration and I hope it can be exactly that against West Ham."

Although Villas-Boas is keen for talk of their glamour tie against Inter not to distract his squad, William Gallas cannot help but think about the meeting with the Italian giants, against whom Spurs played out two memorable games two seasons ago.

"We played a match against Inter at San Siro [in October 2010] which we lost, but it's a place we like a lot because when we played there against AC Milan [in February 2011]," the Spurs defender said.

"That game took us to the Champions League quarter-finals. We know the pitch and the fans well. We're happy to be going there and we'll head out there to get a result."


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