Holtby cool on Tottenham title talk
Tottenham's Lewis Holtby has cooled talk of a Tottenham title tilt, insisting Spurs are fully focused on a top-four berth in the Premier League.
Andre Villas-Boas's side are currently second in the table, behind North London rivals Arsenal, after picking up a point against Chelsea on Saturday.
Tottenham dominated the first half against Jose Mourinho's men before conceding an equaliser in the second period, with many pundits using the game as a yardstick to assess their championship credentials.
But instead of setting their sights on a first league title since 1961, Holtby insists the club are fixated on securing Champions League football next season.
"Everyone can dream but our main aim is to get Champions League football," the midfielder said. "I think we've got the quality and the ability in the whole squad to do that, I'm very confident.
"It's a long season and everyone has to be at the top level to reach that."
Tottenham's trio of Christian Eriksen, Andros Townsend and Paulinho all starred as they took the game to Chelsea in the first half at White Hart Lane before a Tottenham transer target, Juan Mata, changed the game for Chelsea.
Encouraged by Mata's surprising lack of first-team action this season, Spurs made an enquiry for the Spaniard in the last few days of the transfer window, only to be told that he was not for sale.
The fact that another Spurs target Willian was not even on the Blues' bench shows how much depth their is in Mourinho's squad. Villas-Boas was looking to get one over on his old mentor, but Holtby still thinks his manager can be proud of his team's efforts.
"This was a big test, absolutely, and I think we're in a good way and playing a wonderful season," the German said.
"I think the manager was proud of us and how we committed to the game and how we fight in our game week in and week out. We've had a lot of games now in the last couple of weeks so everyone's just done a fantastic job.
"We have to keep on progressing. It's very early in the season, we have to keep working hard. We've got a couple of games now where we have to get some points and stick up top and defend our place up in the top four."
Holtby endured a difficult start to his Spurs career after his move from Schalke in January, but he soon improved and by the end of last season he had started showing glimpses of real quality in his favoured No. 10 role.
Townsend's return from QPR, and the signing of no fewer than five midfielders to the Spurs squad mean Holtby's chances of first-team football took a hit, but the 23-year-old is loving life at White Hart Lane.
"I didn't do the best that I can do last season, but I've progressed and now I think I'm getting more involved,'' said Holtby, who set up three of Tottenham's Capital One Cup goals against Aston Villa in midweek.
"I feel very comfortable and very proud to be here at this club, and I just try to do the things that I do best. Roberto Soldado is a fantastic striker. I hope one day I can play behind him and I'm learning Jermain Defoe's runs too.
"It's easy for a number 10 or a central midfielder to put these players in because they make some wonderful movements, and I'm just happy to be here."