Dawson looks to overcome Arsenal hurt

Michael Dawson hopes this will be the season that Tottenham end their near two-decade-long wait to finish above Arsenal.

Jermain Defoe, Tottenham

Ever since the year before Arsene Wenger took the reins at Arsenal, the Gunners have been in the ascendancy over their neighbours.

Spurs may have registered the occasional memorable north London derby victory, but the fact remains they have not finished above Arsenal since 1995 - and that, Dawson says, hurts.

Tottenham have let 11 and nine-point leads slip in the last two seasons to allow Arsenal to clinch Champions League football while the Gunners pipped Spurs to fourth in 2006 because of a dodgy lasagne that Martin Jol's squad ate on the eve of their crucial final-day draw at West Ham.

Dawson insists Tottenham's failure to overcome their rivals is not down to any psychological factor.

"I wouldn't say there is a mental block, definitely not," the Tottenham captain said.

"Arsenal are a top team. Last year it was unbelievable to miss out.

"It hurt. You have put the whole year in to it, and your pre-season too.

"It was the same the year before as well, and then we had the West Ham situation... but let's hope this year is our year."

Although talk of Gareth Bale leaving for Real Madrid has cast a long shadow over pre-season, Dawson insists there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the season ahead.

He gushes with excitement when he talks about new £26million striker Roberto Soldado, who he admits is more than a handful in training, and he also talks warmly about Paulinho and Nacer Chadli, who joined the club for a combined total of £24million.

And there is another reason to be cheerful - the fact that Andre Villas-Boas remains in charge after rejecting the advances of Paris St Germain this summer.

A year ago it would have been hard for Dawson to praise Villas-Boas as he had just given the England defender permission to speak to QPR over a potential £9million transfer.

But Dawson stayed, won back his place in the team and played a big part in helping Tottenham equal their record points total - something that the defender thinks his manager deserves credit for.

"The manager wants to be as successful as us, he wants to take us in to the Champions League. Last year he was devastated at the end of the season," the Spurs skipper said.

"When he came in last year it took a little time for him to settle with the results but we ended up with a club record 72 points.

"He did a great job but unfortunately we just missed out.

"I didn't know he had turned down offers from other clubs in the summer.

"It shows his dedication (to Spurs). He started something here last year and he obviously wants to build on it."

Dawson himself took time to hit top form last season after being left out of the team in the opening stages of the campaign.

The former Nottingham Forest defender therefore slipped down the pecking order with England, but he now hopes to find a way back in to Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans.

"I will never give up hope of pulling that shirt on again," the 29-year-old said.

"It has been a few years since my last cap but hopefully I will keep performing for Tottenham and see where it takes me. I haven't booked my holidays for next summer yet.

"I was watching the England game against Scotland on Wednesday wishing I was there, but we do have a lot of good players in that position.

"Hopefully I will keep playing well for Tottenham and hope it's good enough."



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