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Posted 28 February 2013 3:26pm
Jan Vertonghen can feel the anticipation as we prepare to meet Arsenal at the Lane on Sunday and insisted: "Every game is a final now."
The latest North London derby is the first of those 11 finals in the Premier League and a key clash as the teams compete again for a place in the Champions League.
We go into the weekend in third place in the Premier League, a point ahead of Chelsea and four ahead of the Gunners. Monday night’s thrilling win at West Ham made it three wins in the trot, 11 matches unbeaten and one defeat in our last 15 matches in the Premier League.
That form stretches back to November - and no doubt sparked by the tough 5-2 loss at the Emirates.
However, Jan was quick to stress that Sunday isn’t all about revenge for that defeat – his focus is on the bigger picture.
“I don’t know if it has to be a big revenge question,” said Jan. “We want to win this game not just because of revenge, but because we want to beat Arsenal anyway, we want to stay in the third position and to keep the run going.
“We’ve had a great run. We have 11 matches left and every game is a final now.
“We all know what happened last season. We are all determined to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League because we all believe this team is ready for it, and deserve it.”
Neverthless, Jan’s first North London derby is still vivid in his memory. “We’d lost two games before that - Wigan and Manchester City - and we wanted to fix that to stay at the top of the league.
“We started very well, were the better team for the first 15 minutes, scored a good goal, but then the red card changed everything.
“We were 3-1 down at half-time and tried everything to still win the game, started the second half with three at the back and we played well considering the situation, pressed them, created chances and it was a shame we couldn’t score our second goal a little earlier.
“It was such a pity because 11 against 11 and I think we’d have got a positive result.”
Jan sees the Gunners as ‘maybe the biggest threat’ to our hopes of a top four finish. “They are a good team capable of winning any game,” he said, but he insisted confidence is sky high ahead of the match.
"We feel strong, very confident and we’ve players of exceptional quality,” he added.
“Gareth Bale is flying now, but before that it was Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele, everyone has had a good season and even when one or two of us haven’t had the best game, there are other players who can do it. The squad is amazing.”