• Manager sets target of 70 points for Champions League
• Defeats by Liverpool and Fulham reduced lead over Arsenal
André Villas-Boas believes that Tottenham Hotspur are still on track to finish in the top four, despite their recent blip, and has set his side a target of 70 points to achieve their aim of qualifying for the Champions League. They have 54 now and there are eight games left.
Tottenham opened up a seven-point lead over Arsenal when they won the north London derby on 3 March but subsequent defeats by Liverpool and Fulham have allowed their rivals, who have a game in hand, to reduce the deficit to four points.
Tottenham's failure to finish above Arsenal and qualify for the Champions League last season is still fresh in the memory, although Villas-Boas claims his players can cope with the challenge from Arsène Wenger's side.
Seventy points have been enough to finish in the top four in each of the past three seasons but, with matches against Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City to come, the margin for error is slim.
"Most of the teams will have to get their act together, us exactly the same," Villas-Boas said. "It shifts very quickly for any team in the Premier League who does not get results. I think normally it's within the 70 to 72 margin. Seventy is normally enough to get in those four spots.
"The fact we have had these results recently has put people closer to us but we have been under pressure before and we built a gap which has been shortened now. We believe in our team and we haven't lost our confidence. We just have to make sure we get the minimum amount of points to be within that range of 70 points at the end of the season."
Villas-Boas also rejected suggestions that his players are psychologically scarred by last season's collapse under his predecessor, Harry Redknapp. "It has happened before, but it doesn't mean it will happen again," he said. "The circumstances, players, leaders, training are different. So at this moment, it has nothing to do with past experiences."
Tottenham, who have no fresh injury concerns after the international break, have been boosted by the return to training of Younès Kaboul, who has been out since undergoing knee surgery in August. Villas-Boas has been pleased with how he has responded in training and is hopeful that he can still play some part in the run-in.
"He has trained the last two days 100% with the team," Villas-Boas said. "He is going to rest on Friday. Next week he is going to come back and train again with the team. If he goes without pain, it can mean 10 days for him to be match fit if all goes without interruption. Ten to 15 days. But without any pressure because it is a very sensitive situation for him."