Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor and Ledley King have expressed admiration for John Terry's strength of character after the Chelsea captain excelled in Thursday's draw at White Hart Lane on his first appearance since the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed he has a case to answer over an alleged racist remark directed at Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand.
Terry was subjected to prolonged abuse from the home support during the 1-1 draw but, after a shaky start, stamped his authority on the game and conjured a fine goalline clearance in added time to deny Adebayor a winner. The Chelsea manager, André Villas-Boas, claimed afterwards that the 31-year-old had "grown in terms of performance" since the alleged incident with Ferdinand at Loftus Road on 23 October. Terry, who denies any wrongdoing, will appear at West London magistrates' court on 1 February to be formally charged, when a date will be set for trial.
The strength of his display was acknowledged by his opponents in the wake of Thursday's derby. "There are a lot of problems for Chelsea, around players like John Terry, but I think we are human beings and we all have problems with our family, problems at home, things like that," said Adebayor, who had opened the scoring for Spurs early on. "But when you pull the shirt on, you just have to manage. It's difficult in your mind, to be honest, but you have to try and manage and put the problems behind you and work for your team.
"You have another 10 players who are there alongside you and you have to show them respect by working hard and doing whatever it takes. John Terry showed great personality, great character and did very well. You learn to deal with things through experience. It's not the first problem he's had in his life or in his career. He has had a couple of problems already and he knows how to deal with them."
Those sentiments were echoed by King, the Tottenham captain and a former England team-mate of Terry's. "He played well today, as did the rest of them," said King. "But he's a top player. He's got himself in the right position and saved his team at the end [after Adebayor's shot bypassed Petr Cech]. He's a strong character and lets his football do the talking out there. It doesn't surprise me that, with all that's happening off the pitch, he's able to put in performances like that."
The draw left Tottenham and Chelsea in third and fourth place respectively in the Premier League table, with each retaining hopes that they can mount a coherent title challenge in the new year. Chelsea's Ashley Cole said "five teams still have a chance", an acknowledgment of Arsenal's recent resurgence, and King admitted that Spurs find themselves in an unaccustomed position as challengers.
"Chelsea have been there before and that counts for a lot," said King. "They know what it takes [to win the league]. I don't remember going into Christmas in such a good position and it's a bit new to us but we're enjoying it. We're going out on the pitch and playing our football, confidence is high and we think we can beat everyone. Maybe the pressure's off us to just go out and play and surprise a few people.
"But we would definitely be disappointed if we didn't finish in the top four from here. With the squad we've got we're more than capable of that. I'm confident we can keep going and produce the results for the remainder of the season. It's very tight in the top four. Chelsea beat Manchester City [this month] and that was a good result at the time. It's swings and roundabouts. The only thing you can do is take care of your own form but we've got the players and the squad to give it a good push."
Both clubs will assess the fitness of key players over the Christmas weekend before next week's fixtures. Chelsea are without Mikel John Obi, most likely for three weeks, because of a hamstring injury sustained at White Hart Lane, and are braced to be without Branislav Ivanovic against Fulham on Boxing Day for the same reason.
Villas-Boas is also waiting on an assessment of David Luiz's recovery from a knee complaint. The Brazilian has missed the recent draws with Wigan and Spurs but will be needed in Monday's derby, for which his compatriot Ramires is suspended.
Tottenham lost Younès Kaboul and Rafael van der Vaart to hamstring trouble, problems that have also afflicted Jermain Defoe and King, leaving Harry Redknapp juggling his resources before Tuesday's trip to Norwich.
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