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FA Cup misery but plenty to play for

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Tottenham Hotspur will have no time to dwell on their FA Cup exit at the hands of Leeds United, with Wednesday’s trip to Norwich City giving them an early opportunity to put the disappointment behind them.

On a run of eight games unbeaten, Andre Villas-Boas’ side went into the clash at Elland Road as hot favourites, especially among those who like to bet on Spurs with Paddy Power, to progress to the fifth round. However, Spurs never got going and were bundled out of the competition by a fired-up Leeds outfit.

It was a tough defeat to swallow for a club with aspirations of lifting silverware at the end of the season. The campaign is very much alive, though. Spurs have an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions League and are well placed for an assault on the Europa League.

Villas-Boas would love to get his hands on a trophy in his first season in charge but his main aim will be to secure a place in the lucrative Champions League. His team are in a four-way battle for two places, though Liverpool could yet have a say.

Tottenham sit three points ahead of fifth-placed Everton and four ahead of north London rivals Arsenal. The same distance separates the men from White Hart Lane and Chelsea above. They have lost only once in 11 league games and look set to put last season’s disappointment of missing out on Europe’s premier competition behind them. They are currently 11/10 with Paddy Power in the Premier League top four finish odds.

The FA Cup defeat was unexpected but it gives Spurs an opportunity to concentrate on other matters and will be a good test to see how they respond. Tottenham have some tough games to come, with trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge mixed in with home matches against Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City, but Villas-Boas has enough quality at his disposal to get the job done.

It will be interesting to see how the Portuguese juggles the two competitions. The Europa League is considered an unwelcome distraction by many, but represents Spurs’ only hope of tangible success this term.

They face a major obstacle in the round of 32 in the form of French side Lyon. They are riding high in Ligue 1 and came through a group containing last season’s runners-up Athletic Bilbao. Inter Milan or Cluj lie in wait in the last 16.

Villas-Boas has a job on his hands to lift his players for the Norwich game. However, the manager and his staff know the season is far from over.



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