Emmanuel Adebayor believes Tottenham will have to up their game after struggling to victory against Sunderland on Sunday if they are to be genuine title contenders this season.
Spurs were unable to recreate their swashbuckling performances that took them to 11 games unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League between October and December against Martin O’Neill’s side, relying on a second half strike from Roman Pavlyuchenko to claim a scrappy victory.
The win took Spurs up to third after Chelsea fell to a draw against lowly Wigan on Saturday, but it came at a price after Aaron Lennon limped off with a suspected hamstring tear while Gareth Bale missed the game altogether with a sprained ankle.
Adebayor admitted Spurs were starting to feel “heavy” during the game, and with five games in eleven days over the festive period and New Year the Togolese international says they will have to battle through the pain barrier if they are to challenge for the title.
“If we want to be in the top four we have to play better than we did against Sunderland,” he said.
“I don’t know happened in the first half. I don’t really want to know. I’m just glad the game is over.
“We felt heavy on the pitch and we didn’t have any solution. It was tough but to be champions that’s what it takes. It’s the kind of game that, regardless of what happened, we were just pleased to get the three points."
Spurs will have their chance to prove their title credentials when they come up against fellow league-hopefuls Chelsea on Thursday at White Hart Lane.
Bale is battling to be fit in time for the game while Lennon has been ruled out until the new year, but Jermain Defoe should be available for selection having missed the game against Sunderland.