Football - Refs not consistent over holding - AVB

Andre Villas-Boas thinks referees are not being consistent enough in the way they deal with holding in the penalty area.

PA Sport

Several Tottenham players, the most notable of which was Emmanuel Adebayor, were unhappy at the way the likes of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth grappled with them as they jostled for position in the box during Saturday's 0-0 draw against Stoke.

"The referees decide on it so differently," the Tottenham manager said. "You saw a couple of examples (against Stoke). The referee had a difficult game because they're put under so much pressure. But it's about trying to get some consistency when you come to analysing these different situations."

He added: "The law was created not so long ago when it comes to pushing and shoving in the box. A couple of referees have decided on the situations, others haven't."

Stoke rarely threatened the Tottenham goal, but in truth they never looked like conceding, thanks to excellent performances from Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth in defence and some bruising work from Steven N'Zonzi in midfield.

Stoke's physical and aerial approach annoys many purists in the game, including Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who two years ago compared the Staffordshire outfit to a rugby team, but Villas-Boas refused to criticise the Potters' methods.

"I totally respect Stoke," he said. "What they have achieved this season is tremendous because it gives credit to Tony Pulis' work. You don't expect to play Stoke and for them to take the game easily.

"I admire other types of football. But you have to respect them. It's not easy when you give so much possession to the opponent and you have to defend but all credit to them and their work."

The result meant Tottenham now head to Aston Villa on Boxing Day outside the Champions League qualification places, but Villas-Boas remains convinced his team are on course to achieve their objective of a top-four finish.

He said: "I think we have enough to finish top four. It doesn't shift because of one result. There's a lot of teams with 30 points so even if the teams get a couple of points the difference is minimal. The Premier League is like that. The team that sits third the other day now sits sixth or seventh in the league."

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