Lewis Holtby expects Tottenham to return to form

Lewis Holtby isn't a regular in the Spurs line-up. Photo: PA

Lewis Holtby experienced a "typically English" penalty shootout defeat this week, but he is sure that Tottenham will bounce back next weekend when they face Manchester City in a huge clash at White Hart Lane.

Andre Villas-Boas' hopes of winning the Europa League for the second time in three seasons evaporated on Thursday night when 10-man Spurs lost 4-1 in a tense shootout in Basle.

Holtby did not take one of Tottenham's three penalties, and as a German, being on the losing side in a penalty shootout was an alien experience for the 22-year-old from Erkelenz.

As the disappointment of exiting the Europa League began to fade, Holtby started to focus on the positives that came out of the defeat, principally that Spurs can now concentrate on a hugely important month which will determine whether their season is a success or failure.

"We played well over 120 minutes and we were down to 10 men so it was a difficult night, but we got to the penalty shootout, and it was typically English in the end," Holtby told Press Association Sport.

"We were unlucky. There's a lot of pressure on the lads when you are taking penalties away from home, but we have some time to recover now and we have some important games coming up. We want to go in to the Champions League next year and I think we deserve to."

On current form it is hard to see Spurs still being in the top four come the end of the season.

Villas-Boas' side have won once in their last seven in all competitions while Arsenal are finishing the season at a canter, just as they did last season when they ate up a 10-point disadvantage to pip their neighbours to Champions League qualification.

Tottenham face Manchester City and Chelsea in their remaining six games, but Holtby is supremely confident that the team can still bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane next season.

"The belief is very strong that we can make the Champions League," said the midfielder, who joined Spurs from Schalke in January.

"Whenever we have disappointment we bounce back. We have shown that in the past. We fight back and play good football.

"On Thursday we had a lot of possession. To play with 10 men for the last 30 minutes in the rain on that pitch was hard. I was proud to be a Tottenham player.

"Now we just have to bounce back. We have some very big Premier League fixtures coming up now so we have to put our heads up high and do our best."

Part of the reason behind Holtby's optimism is due to the fact that Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, and Jermain Defoe, who have scored 40 Spurs goals between them, are due to return for the game against City at White Hart Lane.

Spurs also have the bonus of a 10-day break between matches while their other rivals Chelsea face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final tomorrow.

"I think the break will be beneficial," Holtby said.

"We have had a lot of matches as a squad. The Basle game was the second match in the space of a few weeks where we have had 120 minutes, and we have had so many games.

"We played well on Thursday, and we have got Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, and Jermain Defoe coming back for the Man City game so the prospects are good.

"It could be (beneficial) that Chelsea are still in the Europa League, but I am just thinking about our team."