Tottenham's Jermaine Defoe Dreams of Pipping Arsenal in the UCL
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is positive (read it as "overconfident") ahead of their Champions League play-off draw.
Tottenham haven't yet registered a berth in the tournament proper, but that doesn't deter Defoe from jabbing Arsenal, who have already qualified for the group stages of the Europe's elite Cup competition.
This will be Tottenham's first appearance in the Champions League since 1961, but Defoe's statements may delude you that they have been playing in the tournament for a long, long time.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have qualified for the Champions League continuously for the past 10 years and counting.
Arsenal's game is better suited for the Champions League. Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal boss, is as experienced as anybody in the European arena. He has far more experience in the elite competition than Harry Redknapp will ever have.
Even that wasn't enough to stop Defoe from proclaiming the following.
"If we can get past the playoff qualifier, I honestly think we will go further than Arsenal in the Champions League. No disrespect to Arsenal, because they have a good record in the Champions League and for them it’s become part of the furniture, part of their regular season—it’s the norm, " said an exuberant Defoe.
First off, Tottenham must get past the qualifier. And that isn't as easy as Defoe might seem to believe. It's complacency at its best.
Teams are so highly competitive while playing in the Champions League that even a minor lapse in concentration could send the superior team packing. Moreover, the pressure of expectations of the Tottenham fans could result in getting the better of the players.
So, where does all this point to? Tottenham pipping Arsenal, or Arsenal having the last laugh?
Some of the players, including Defoe, might have a feeling that Tottenham are already in the tournament. The reality is far from it though.
With such an overzealous frame of mind, don't be surprised if Tottenham gets knocked out in the qualifier itself, never mind the proper tournament.
The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham is not new.
And one could understand Tottenham's desire to surpass Arsenal as the supreme force of North London.
However, that isn't as easy Defoe thinks. Arsenal have been the standout team in North London since the year dot and will always remain the same.
What Tottenham must do now is come to terms with the fact that they're finally in the Champions League qualifier! Sometimes it's hard to believe what you're seeing when you least expected it to happen.
A lot of preparation and hard work is needed to have a long run in a highly challenging and gruelling competition like the Champions League.
And Tottenham's squad will be facing a new challenge in the forthcoming weeks, that is to juggle between Premier League ties and big European nights, which isn't a piece of cake.
It will test the fitness levels of even the fittest player, so it remains to be seen how Tottenham's players acclimatise to the laborious situation they may find themselves in after qualifying for the group stage (Wait a second, will they qualify? Topic of debate for another day!).
More on that will be clear in the first week of the new season, as Tottenham will have to play Manchester City as well as the Champions League qualifier in a matter of few days (very few indeed!). Let's hope that Tottenham could get to where Arsenal have already qualified for (!).
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