Monday 22 July 2013
Andre Villas-Boas is looking forward to seeing how his Tottenham Hotspur team respond to a higher level of intensity in pre-season matches and in training after they arrived in Hong Kong for the Barclays Asia Trophy.
"We face a good level of opposition next in Sunderland, we had a really tough game against them at White Hart Lane at the end of last season"
Spurs take on Sunderland in the opening match in Hong Kong Stadium on 24 July, a repeat of their final match of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season when Villas-Boas's side emerged 1-0 winners thanks to a last-minute spectacular strike from Gareth Bale.
The Spurs head coach is keen to see how his team measure up against Premier League opposition, especially in the expected humid conditions.
"We face a good level of opposition next in Sunderland, we had a really tough game against them at White Hart Lane at the end of last season," Villas-Boas told the Spurs website. "We know it will be difficult because of the conditions in Hong Kong, but it is the same for both teams. Hopefully we will continue to step up and try to get through to the final.
"The players have been excellent in their work [in pre-season]. Now we go up a level in opposition in Hong Kong and that gives them extra motivation. At the moment, I’m extremely happy with how it’s going."
Spurs captain Michael Dawson is expecting a tough workout while in Hong Kong, both in training and in the matches. "We know it's about preparing for the first match of the season, against Crystal Palace," he said. "It's about getting your fitness right and improving game by game. Pre-season is tough because you train so much. Once the season starts you are not put through the paces as much as pre-season where you are working constantly."
Spurs are hoping that Nacer Chadli will be joining them in Hong Kong after the FC Twente forward agreed a deal to sign for the club, pending a medical, and Villas-Boas spoke of his reasons for the deal and suggested that there might be more signings before the transfer window closes on 2 September.
"We will continue to do our business. We have not stopped for sure"
"Nacer is a player who we have been following for quite some time so we are very happy [to have agreed a deal]," Villas-Boas said. "He is a versatile player who can play in different positions up front. He has played with tremendous success on the left for Twente and as an attacker for Belgium. So we look forward to having him on board with us because he is another great addition to our squad.
"We will continue to do our business. We have not stopped for sure."
For Dawson signings such as Chadli and Paulinho, the Brazil midfielder bought from Corinthians, are part-and-parcel of the summer at a Barclays Premier League club and he hopes that the arrivals will help to take Spurs back into the UEFA Champions League as other clubs also bring in new players.
"They keep spending and improving with the players brought in," Dawson said of Spurs' rivals. "You can't stand still. You have to keep improving and hopefully that is what we will keep doing.
"You can't stand still. You have to keep improving and hopefully that is what we will keep doing"
"Every year you come back as a fresh start and hope to do better than you did last season. We missed out on the Champions League last season so hopefully we can start again and be playing in it after.
"We want to finish in the top four, to be playing the Champions League. Every player does and it would be great for the club. If we can pick up a trophy along the way, it would be marvellous."
That quest will be helped by victory over Palace at Selhurst Park on 18 August and Villas-Boas is confident that the Barclays Asia Trophy will play a part in achieving this.
"There is extremely good organisation of the tournament, which has the reputation as being one of the best pre-season competitions to be involved in," he said. "I hope to get good conditions to train in, which is the most important thing, and we hope to continue our preparation to be ready for the first game of the season."