Spurs ready for Arsenal clash

  • Last Updated: November 16 2012, 22:49 GMT

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas hopes Arsenal's shaky defence will suffer from another bout of nerves in Saturday's North London derby.

Andre Villas-Boas: Ready to face Arsenal

Neither Tottenham nor Arsenal look as if they will challenge for the Barclays Premier League this season.

Tottenham have lost three successive games and sit seventh in the table, while their north London rivals have suffered their worst start to a campaign since 1982-83, when they amassed 14 points after 11 games.

The Gunners' season has been blighted by defensive shortcomings.

They won but still shipped five against Reading in the Capital One Cup, lost to Norwich recently and conceded three against Fulham last week - something that infuriated manager Arsene Wenger.

After the draw against the Cottagers Wenger said his defence looked "fragile", and Tottenham manager Villas-Boas hopes the Gunners will have another off day at the back in Saturday's clash.

"You try (to exploit) those things," Villas-Boas said.

"When we went to Man City we did that, but as soon as they equalised the environment turned.

"You can benefit from the buzz that's around people. There's always one more game for you to make the same mistakes."

Spurs, of course, have not been immune from defensive lapses of their own this term.

Villas-Boas' men have thrown points away in the last 15 minutes in four of their 11 matches - a problem which has caused the team to drop out of the reckoning for the Champions League places for now.

Yet there have been no collapses quite as spectacular as the one in last year's thriller at the Emirates Stadium.

Tottenham raced into the lead thanks to goals from Louis Saha and Emmanuel Adebayor, but they wilted under pressure and went on to suffer a humiliating 5-2 defeat.

Villas-Boas does not want a repeat performance in Saturday's encounter.

"It's a game where you can't sleep. You have to be aware all the time," he said.

"Hopefully we take the lesson.

"Obviously at 2-0 you thought that the game was going Tottenham's way.

"If you get your focus right, you feel confident to hold onto a lead like that.

"We are a good attacking side but we concede a lot so we have to get better and to improve our goal difference."

The decisions of both managers have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

Villas-Boas was jeered when he substituted Jermain Defoe and brought on Emmanuel Adebayor in Spurs' defeat to Wigan, and the Portuguese's side have been booed off on a number of occasions this term.

Wenger, meanwhile, has come under fire for his failure to replace key players such as Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas with players of the same calibre.

Villas-Boas is a big admirer of what Wenger has achieved at Arsenal, however, and he doubts that the Gunners' slump will continue for long while the Frenchman remains in charge.

"I think he is one of the greatest managers of all time and continues to have success," the former Chelsea manager said.

"It's human nature (to criticise). When you are in one place you always are willing for a change or prepared to change to something positive.

"When change happens you see what you were missing at first.

"I don't know if that will be the case or not (with Arsenal), but I certainly feel he has delivered what Arsenal want for the last years and continues to be one of the great managers.

"He has been extremely successful. And when people are successful you have to admire them."

Villas-Boas is confident that Defoe, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon will all be fit for Saturday's game despite the trio having had to pull out of England's friendly against Sweden with hamstring problems.

The Spurs boss said: "Most of the England boys who were carrying heavy legs have done one more recovery session. They were struggling. Lennon had a scan, but he's okay. I think all three will be up for selection."

Influential playmaker Mousa Dembele is out with a hip injury, however.

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