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Boys raise the bar

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Michael Carrick suspects the team have significantly raised the bar with the special display agains Villa and set a standard of performance they hope to match against Middlesbrough.

Carrick pulled the strings from his midfield anchor role as the boys put on the style at the Lane and, while he is not anticipating another five-goal show at the Riverside Stadium, the team need to pick up some reward from the trip in order to retain the crucial 7th place in the Premiership.

"It was a great game," reflected Michael. "We've been threatening it for a while and thankfully it all came together on Sunday.

"The thing is, once you set that standard you've got to try and match it every week and be consistent. To be fair, we have been fairly consistent this season, we've had a couple of blips, but every team has that. We have been strong at home and picked up a lot of points.

"At home we've been scoring a lot of goals. I think we are the second top scorers which shows the fire power we've got up front. When you go away from home it is not the same type of game and our away form is something we are looking to improve on.

"Hopefully we can do that on Saturday."

The outcome of the Riverside trip will go a long way towards determining who seizes the coveted UEFA Cup spot and Michael feels the team have made good progress by putting themselves 'in the mix'.

"I don't think many people would have expected us to be in this position now. If we don't get European football now it will be a blow for us.

"A couple of months ago we would have said that 8th, 9th or 10th would have been a decent season for us. Now we are in the mix we want to be finishing 7th and getting into Europe.

"Of course we are confident, we have played well in recent weeks. We went to Anfield and Birmingham and got draws where we could have won and could have got something out of the game at Arsenal.

"Our away form is not too bad but is something we've got to turn around and improve a little bit. After the game the other day the lads are desperate for the Middlesbrough game to come around.

"I know Boro had a tricky run but have picked up again - they went to Anfield last week and played very well in the first half. They've got some quality players and are a solid team - Ehiogu is back and Southgate, who are a couple of rocks at the heart of defence and are hard to break down."

The last time there was so much riding on the last couple of games of the season for Michael in the Premiership it did not have a happy ending for him with West Ham suffering relegation. He concluded by stating the pressure for success is much more to his liking.

"It is a lot more enjoyable, I'll tell you that! That is a different type of pressure and I wouldn't want to go through that sort of pressure again. Being in the bottom three is depressing more than anything else.

"Where we are now and playing well brings another type of pressure - and I'll take this pressure every week. As long as you are playing well and enjoying your football then things are normally going okay."