Van der Vaart eyes third place

Rafael van der Vaart maintains that Tottenham can still catch Arsenal and finish third in the Barclays Premier League this season.

Rafael van der Vaart

Tottenham recently went on a dismal run of one win in nine league games, but they have enjoyed a mini-revival of late, registering back-to-back wins over Blackburn and Bolton to move back in to the top four with two games left.

Spurs are now ahead of fifth-place Newcastle on goal difference, but they know finishing fourth may not necessarily guarantee them a place in the Champions League as Chelsea will qualify for the competition if they beat Bayern Munich in the European Cup final later this month.

Arsenal, one point above Spurs, are favourites to claim third spot as they play Norwich and West Brom while Tottenham travel to Aston Villa on Sunday before hosting a resurgent Fulham on the final day of the campaign.

Nevertheless, Van der Vaart has been buoyed by his team's resurgence and claims snatching third place off their bitter north London rivals is still a possibility.

"We are now only a point behind Arsenal, so anything is possible," the Dutchman told Spurs TV Online.

"There are two games to go, but it feels like there is still a long way to go.

"We just have to concentrate on what we have to do at Villa."

Van der Vaart has been key to the Tottenham's turnaround, scoring in their last two matches to end what he thinks was a difficult time for him at the club.

The 29-year-old, who has been a revelation since signing for Spurs in August 2010, claims he has been under-performing recently and has also been troubled by niggling injuries.

"When we win it is easy and everyone says you're great, but when you lose, we have to look in the mirror and be critical of ourselves," he added.

"I had a few games that were really bad and you can't help the team then. I am happy everything has changed now.

"I can do more, I think. I am a player that has to play well to say something. When I play bad it is difficult to say something.

"But on the pitch I want to help everybody. Everybody is working together - Emmanuel Adebayor up front is an amazing striker for me and the whole team. It is great to play with him."

As well as a dismal run of form in the league, Spurs had to endure the humiliation of a 5-1 thrashing in their FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley, although the Blues were aided by a goal that should never have been given.

Van der Vaart revealed that a team meeting following the drubbing was part of the reason why Spurs have performed better of late.

"We spoke (after the semi-final). We said we have to stay together, especially in difficult times and play as a team," the former Real Madrid man said.

"It is not important to play well, but to fight. Then the wins come."

Villa head in to Sunday's game on the back of a winless run of eight matches that has seen the club drop to within three points of the relegation zone.

That sequence has led to calls for Alex McLeish to step down, but Redknapp thinks the former Birmingham manager should be given time.

"It has been a difficult season for him," Redknapp said.

"He has always had the fans to deal with and was always going to be difficult when he went in there.

"You wouldn't get a better man, though. He is a top manager too.

"You just hope that next year he can strengthen.

"They have some good young players there and I think they will be okay this season."

Redknapp is confident that he will have Scott Parker available for Sunday's game after the inspirational midfielder missed the last two matches with ankle and Achilles problems.



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