Rafael van der Vaart admits third place is main objective for Tottenham after 5-2 Arsenal defeat

The Dutch international insisted his side would recover after letting a two-goal lead slip in derby loss, but admitted the title may now be out of reach

Rafael van der Vaart insists Tottenham have the mental strength to stop crushing defeat to Arsenal having a detrimental effect on the remainder of their season, with an automatic Champions League qualification place still very much up for grabs.

The 29-year-old’s side remain third in the league, seven points clear of rivals Arsenal, but face the daunting prospect of Manchester United and Chelsea in March.

The last time Spurs conceded five goals in a match, at home to Manchester City in August, they reacted by claiming 10 wins from the next 11 games, and the Dutch international is confident they could bounce back in a similar manner.

"It won't be difficult to lift ourselves," he told the Evening Standard.

"Do we have the mental strength to put this behind us? Of course. It will be difficult against United but the confidence is there.

"This season, we have nearly always played well at home. Yesterday was a bad day but that's all it was."

"Of course you always hope [for a chance at the title] but Manchester City are winning their games so easily, especially now we have lost, so maybe the title is over.

"Third is our main goal now and I'm really confident we can finish there."

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