Villas-Boas: Clash against Chelsea will hold key to Tottenham's Champions League fate

Spurs travel to Stamford Bridge on May 8 with the race for the top four on a knife-edge following the north London side's impressive 3-1 win over Manchester City on Sunday
Andre Villas-Boas believes Tottenham’s clash against rivals Chelsea next month will hold the key to their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League following their comeback victory over Manchester City on Sunday.

Spurs came from behind at White Hart Lane to beat City 3-1 with three goals in seven second-half minutes to move two points behind third-placed Arsenal in the Premier League table and close the gap on Chelsea in fourth as the race for the top four hots up.

Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge on May 8 and, with five games to play before the end of the season, Villas-Boas believes the trip to his former club will decide Spurs’ fate.

Villas-Boas said:  “I think gathering as many points as possible is our objective and the game against Chelsea could be the decider in the end.

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“We still have to reach our objectives for this season for it to be considered a full success. We are in control because we have a game in hand [on Arsenal], but the game in hand is against Chelsea. It will be a difficult game at Stamford Bridge.”

Villas-Boas was delighted with the performance of his players in the second-half against City as Spurs responded to Samir Nasri’s opener with late goals from Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale.

The Portuguese reserved particular praise for substitutes Defoe, Tom Huddlestone and Lewis Holtby while he was delighted with Bale’s contribution - a goal and assist - on the attacker’s return from an ankle injury.

“I think it was very important for the team to come back,” Villas-Boas said. “In the first-half, we didn’t play as we wanted.

“We denied City a second goal, which would have been a killer, and in the second-half the team found its rhythm.  The fans today were outstanding too and the equaliser was the decisive moment of the game.

“Credit to the players who came off the bench for coming in with the right spirit. It was really good to see. Tom made a difference with his passing, Jermain scored a tremendous goal and Lewis with his passing.”

On Bale, he added: “Fitness level is very difficult to understand but we had the green light from the player. I think the impact of having him in the team is also important, you saw in the second-half that Clichy stayed back out of respect for Gareth’s abilities.

“After his assist, his mind took over and he was able to play with confidence and complete the 90 minutes.”

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