Robbie Keane has kicked off the mind games for Tottenham’s derby against Arsenal by insisting Spurs have greater strength in depth.
Spurs are level points with their bitter rivals in the Barclays Premier League, having played a game more, but there is genuine hope at White Hart Lane about breaking into the top four.
The two clubs look similarly matched in terms of quality and ahead of the Emirates Stadium clash on Saturday, Keane believes the Spurs bench could give them the edge.
“You look at the two squads and we’re definitely on a par,” he said.
“In the last four or five years Arsenal always managed to get ahead of us but if you look now it is even.
“It will be judged at the end of the season but if you look at the bench we have, it is probably a bit stronger than their bench.
“The mentality around the club in previous seasons was that we would be happy to finish fifth or qualify for the UEFA Cup, but there is a different feeling now.
“The players have the feeling that we want to get to the Champions League.
“You can take away Saturday’s game because anything can happen in a north London derby – but we need to be judging ourselves against teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea over a season.
“It’s still early days but we’re in the top four now. If we can get to Christmas still around there, we’d certainly have every chance.”
Keane picked up a knock to his ankle in the Carling Cup victory over Everton but should be available, along with Peter Crouch, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate after recent injuries.
Aaron Lennon is expected to miss out with an ankle problem but David Bentley staked his claim to deputise with his performance in the 2-0 win over David Moyes’ men.
Carlo Cudicini is also nursing a slight injury but would struggle to get ahead of Heurelho Gomes even if he was fit.
Gomes, after pulling off three important saves against Everton, told the Evening Standard: “This period is my best moment since I joined Tottenham.”
The former PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper added: “I feel fit, I am confident and I am sharp, so I can help Tottenham all the time.
“I don’t have the problems that were affecting me last year. I am okay now.
“We played really well against Everton and it’s great to be in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup. Now, we’re looking forward to the Arsenal game.”
Spurs boss Redknapp has been impressed by Gomes and left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
He said: “He’s a good keeper in great form. He’s improved as the left-back has – he is one of the most improved you’ll see.
“When I first came I wasn’t too sure about how good he was but he’s got better and better and is up there with the best left-backs in the Premier League.”