Football: JJ: WE'VE GOTCHA; BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP Jenas warns Gunners that Spurs feel four-midable Birm'ham 0 Spurs 2.
JERMAINE JENASRM insisted Tottenham have the mental strength to hold off Arsenal for the fourth Champions League spot after taming the brute force of Birmingham City.
In previous seasons a Spurs side playing away on a freezing night might have folded under the bone-jarring commitment of Steve Bruce's side.
But after weathering a first-half buffeting, class told as goals from Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane saw Tottenham run out comfortable winners and move back above their north London rivals.
The evening kick-off meant Martin Jol's side knew Arsenal had already put the pressure on by beating: Charlton to jump into the top four. But Spurs' response showed this game of leapfrog is set to run for the rest of the season, with the Gunners again playing first this weekend before Tottenham face West Brom a week today in the run-up to their April 22 Highbury clash.
And after only their second away win in seven games, Jenas said his side were up for the fight on every front.
"The pressure was on with Arsenal winning but the lads put in a great performance, " said the England midfielder. "Everyone is really positive. We know how important these games are and we all want that Champions League spot.
"These games, the late kick-offs on a Saturday, are never easy because it's so cold, but the lads gave a good account of themselves. The closer it gets, the more pressurised the games will become and the teams that deal with the pressure better will progress.
"But there is enough strength of character in the squad to hold off Arsenal. The mentality and character of the squad is brilliant."
While Arsenal again did not deploy an Englishman this weekend, watching England coach Sven Goran Eriksson would have been impressed with a Spurs performance based on English grit.
Ledley King and his centre-back partner Michael Dawson were resilient in front of Paul Robinson, Michael Carrick was assured, and Jenas showed his preference for a central midfield role with several breathtaking runs. And it was two more English players who provided the crucial opening goal.
Starting his first game for a month, Jermain Defoe took his time to get into the game but he used his strength and speed to evade Mario Melchiot and Kenny Cunningham to set up Lennon's first Premiership goal after 65 minutes. "Jermain was brilliant, " said Jenas. "The fight he showed to get Aaron his goal probably typified his performance.
"All the English players in the team are going to want to go to the World Cup in the summer so there is that extra edge."
This summer is too soon for the 18-year-old Lennon but his poise and pace should make him a full international soon enough.
"Players are frightened of him because he's so quick but you wish for a final ball or a goal, and he provided that today, " said Jol.
"And he did it against Blackburn as well when he came on and he crossed for Mido to score the winning goal. So in two games he has been decisive twice and that is exactly what we want from him."
Jenas provided the inch-perfect cross for Keane's 77th-minute finish to wrap up Tottenham's first win at St Andrews for 20 years and start a mass walk-out of the home fans.
Birmingham have now scored only two goals in their last six Premiership games and the new striking partnership of Emile Heskey and DJ Campbell, making his first Premiership start, was not the answer in a team badly missing a creative spark. Those Blues supporters who stayed until the end took out their frustrations on full-back Melchiot.
His fellow Dutchman, Tottenham's Edgar Davids, said: "I don't think he deserved to be booed - none of the players deserves to be booed.
"They go on the field to give their best. Some players do better than others but everyone is trying to go out there and win for their team."
THE RUN-INS FOR A PLACE IN EUROPE
Mar 27: West Bromwich (h), April 1: Newcastle (a), April 8: Man City (h), April 15: Everton (a), April 17: Man Utd (h), April 22: Arsenal (a), April 29: Bolton (h), May 7: West Ham (a).
Mar 25: Portsmouth (a), April 1: Aston Villa (h), April 9: Man Utd (a), April 15: West Brom (h), April 17: Man City (a), April 22: Tottenham (h), April 29: Sunderland (a), May 7: Wigan (h).
BIRMINGHAM vs TOTTENHAM
51% POSSESSION 49%
5 SHOTS ON TARGET 4
3 SHOTS OFF TARGET 3
1 OFFSIDES 4
10 CORNERS 4
12 FOULS 9
2 YELLOW CARDS 0
0 RED CARDS 0
ATTENDANCE: 26, 398
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jenas
TEAMS AND RATINGS
BIRMINGHAM: Taylor 6, Melchiot 4, Cunningham 7, Taylor 6, Clapham 5, Pennant 5, Butt 6, Johnson 5, Lazaridis 4 (Kilkenny 80, 4), Heskey 6 Campbell 6, (Forssell 57, 5).
TOTTENHAM: Robinson 6, Kelly 7, Dawson 8, King 7, Lee 6, Lennon 8, Carrick 6, Jenas 8, Davids 7, Defoe 8, Keane 7, (Murphy 78, 6).
Referee: URIAH RENNIE
FAB FOUR: Lennon celebrates his goal with Kelly and Carrick' JOL: Back above Arsenal
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Mar 20, 2006|
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