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Oct 1, 2011

King: Spurs can finish above Arsenal

As he prepares to face them in the North London derby this weekend, Tottenham club captain Ledley King has said that the club have a great chance to finish above rivals Arsenal in the Premier League this season.

• First XI: North London derbies

Arsenal have endured the summer from hell as they saw two of their best players leave for pastures new - Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri - although they were able to bring in the likes of Mikel Arteta and loanee Yossi Benayoun before the transfer window closed. The disruption certainly did not help the start to their season as they lost 2-0 to Liverpool, 8-2 to Manchester United and 4-3 to lowly Blackburn with error-strewn defensive performances. However, King is backing them to improve now that the transfer window has passed.

''I think their [Arsenal's] start of their season was quite similar to ours,'' King told ESPNsoccernet . ''There was confusion over who was coming and going and I think it affected them. Now that the window is closed I think they have a settled squad and they are looking to progress and work harder to try and improve the results. It's not been a typical Arsenal start so far, but I'm sure they will improve.''

Spurs are no strangers to disruption as their opening Premier League game against Everton was postponed because of the London riots and they then lost 3-0 and 5-1 to Manchester United and Manchester City respectively. But, with King returning from injury to help his side to three wins in three Premier League games, Tottenham have turned things around and are now in fine form ahead of what, for many of their fans, is the most important game of the season.

Spurs have not finished above Arsenal since 1994-95 - the year before Arsene Wenger joined the club - but King believes that his side have what it takes to end the season ahead of their local rivals.

''I've been saying it for a number of years now, but I feel that this year we're in a very good position to do that,'' he said. ''We have a strong squad, some good young players and we're as strong as we've ever been. We don't look ahead and think, 'We have to finish above Arsenal' - instead we focus on the top four and getting into the Champions League every season. We were disappointed to miss out on that last season, but this year we want to make sure that we're back in the competition again and if that means that Arsenal have to drop out then it's an added bonus.''

King has struggled with injuries throughout his career - even missing weekly training to allow him to maintain his fitness for games - but says he is feeling back to his old self.

''I've had a lot of bad luck with injuries over the years,'' he said. ''Everytime I came back, I suffered another setback, but hopefully now I can push on and play more regularly. I don't want to jinx anything, but I feel good and hopefully I can stay in the team to help us win games this season.''

Since his return, King has been a rock at the back for Spurs and they have conceded just one goal. In contrast, many pundits have said that the Gunners' main weakness has been at the back, and the 14 goals conceded in their six games thus far seems to suggest that they might be right. With several defenders out through injury, Spurs could take advantage, but King says Spurs just need to focus on their own game.

''They've won their last three fixtures [in all competitions] as well and will be looking to build on that,'' he said, "but we'll just be going into the game thinking about ourselves and what we have to do to get a result. They have a few players missing, but it would be wrong of us to focus on who isn't playing and instead we'll be concerned with our jobs. The derby is always such a massive game, so we don't need any extra motivation.''

One man who won't need any extra motivation is Tottenham new boy Emmanuel Adebayor, who caused controversy when he played against Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009 as he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate his first goal in front of the Gunners' fans at Eastlands.

King has been very impressed with the Togo striker, who has netted three goals in three games for his new club, and thinks he will be able to handle anything that the Arsenal fans can throw at him.

''Adebayor thrives under pressure and there is no better place for him to play than a derby game,'' he said. ''He's got nothing to prove at Arsenal, but at the same time he will be well motivated to play well against his old club.

''The spotlight will definitely be on him but he just needs to make sure that he does everything he needs to do for us and I'm sure that we will be able to come away with a win.''

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