Belfast Telegraph

Bale: FA Cup tie will end Spurs slump

By Ben Rumsby

Gareth Bale says Tottenham's Premier League slump will count for nothing when they take on Bolton in Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final.

Third-placed Spurs have thrown away what looked set to be a 13-point lead over Arsenal since last month's north London derby and go into this weekend's Cup tie just one point ahead of their arch-rivals.

But Bale believes earning a place in a Wembley semi-final will lift his team-mates despite three successive league defeats. "It's a massive game for us," the winger said. "We know our league form hasn't been great of late, but the FA Cup is a different competition and, being at home, we've got a great chance to get to the semi-finals.

"We know it's not going to be an easy game. It's going to be hard work – it's a Cup tie. We'll just go out there, give it 100 per cent, play our best football and hopefully we can be in the semi-final."

Spurs have enjoyed the luck of the draw this season, having faced Cheltenham, Watford and Stevenage, with Bolton their first Premier League opponents.

Bale said: "The teams we've come up against have made it difficult for us. We've got through on merit at the end of the day, and to play Bolton will be a difficult test, and one we're ready for.

"Any silverware is important and the FA Cup is a massive trophy in England and something we want to do well in."

For the Spurs manager, though, the game presents a dilemma. Harry Redknapp must decide whether to continue to rest players in the Cup, with crucial league points at stake in next Wednesday's game against Stoke and the following Saturday's vital trip to Chelsea.

Young midfielder Jake Livermore will be hoping Redknapp does rotate his squad again, having started three of Tottenham's four FA Cup matches this season. Indeed, the 22-year-old is already dreaming of Wembley, where he famously scored against Barcelona in the 2009 Wembley Cup.

"That goal feels like many moons ago!" he said. "It would be great to go back to Wembley, the heart of English football. Every player in the changing room wants to go there.

"There are no easy games and Bolton will be difficult. The FA Cup, you can never predict what will happen, but we'll be ready. It's another tough game for us ... The lads are disappointed with the [recent] results but we can take pride from the performances. We've worked our socks off and sometimes you get the breaks, sometimes you don't."

Meanwhile, Tottenham yesterday confirmed one of their Academy youngsters has been in intensive care for the past three days after suffering a serious head injury. Oliver Modeste, 17, was taken to hospital following an accidental fall on Sunday evening and is being closely monitored by specialists.

Spurs said in a statement: "Oliver's family has asked the club to convey their thanks for the many messages of support they have received. They have also asked that their privacy be respected at this time."

While Spurs agonise about losing an automatic Champions League position, at the other end of the table are their cross-town London rivals, Queen's Park Rangers, who are in a five-team fight for survival.

QPR, 18th in the Premier League table, are in serious danger of an immediate return to the second tier – but assistant manager Mark Bowen says last Saturday's cruel late 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Bolton has fired his players.

Bowen insists there is a real belief within the club that they can stay up. "It galvanises the dressing room," he said. "We feel a little hard done by, and it's a little bit self-inflicted, but we want to put things right. There's a real determination now over the 10 games. We're in a 10-game fight with four other clubs.

"As a team, we are creating a lot of chances. We've got two strikers who we feel, with the run-in, could be vital for us. We've got to continue creating chances. We feel they're getting a good understanding. But the rest of the team have got to give them a chance as well.

"By keeping things tight and creating a platform, if they go on to score, we can pick up three points."

Bowen may be optimistic but the fans fear Rangers' run-in is one of the toughest in memory, with trips to Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City plus visits from Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.

The run is compounded by their miserable league form – Rangers have managed just one win in 16 games – but Bowen insists the team do not fear anyone, including next week's opponents Liverpool.

"When you feel like you are playing well, it's like you've got no fear of playing the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal at home," he said. "We may be proved wrong, but at the moment we're just saying 'Bring them on'.

"If things are equal and we can defend a little bit better, I think we're a match for anybody."

Belfast Telegraph


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