Defoe: We can better Arsenal
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe has raised expectations at White Hart Lane before the campaign has even begun, claiming that the club will do better in the Champions League than Arsenal this season.
Defoe, who will come up against Swiss side Young Boys in the play-off round, claims that if the club manage to negotiate their qualifying tie and reach the group stage, then they can surpass their North London rivals - who were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Barcelona.
"If we can get past the play-off qualifier, I honestly think we will go further in the Champions League than Arsenal," Defoe told the Daily Mirror. "No disrespect to Arsenal, because they have a good record in the Champions League and for them it's become part of the furniture, part of their regular season, it's the norm.
"But I can't wait to experience the buzz around White Hart Lane on European nights, the place will be absolutely rocking.
"I do believe, if we can make that first step, that we will be contenders. We've got the squad, younger players like Gareth Bale have come on a bundle since we were last in Europe, and the gaffer would love to show what he can do as a manager in Europe."
Defoe also wants to cement the club's place in the competition over the coming years and admitted that a good start to the season would aid their cause.
"The big games come thick and fast on all fronts, for club and country, in the opening weeks and, as we saw last year, a good start can take you a long way,'' he said. "Who knows how important the result might prove in the final shake-up, but with [Manchester] City first up followed by a Champions League qualifier, it feels like the business end of our campaign might be in the first weeks.
"It's a tough schedule, but we will be ready for it mentally. I've always believed in making a strong start. We did that last year, and it set the tone for the next eight months.
"Every year the Premier League seems to be getting tougher, but Tottenham fans have been waiting forever for a team to deliver Champions League football, and we don't want to be one-hit wonders.''