With City, Aston Villa and Spurs considered the teams most likely to break the ‘Big Four’ domination this season, Hughes reckons beating a potential Champions League rival could be the difference between finishing in the top four or just outside.
“If you look at the strength of the teams who have finished in the Champions League places consistently in recent years then it is difficult to challenge for a place in the top three,” he said.
“Fourth spot is more vulnerable, however, and there’s been definite progress from teams vying for that position this season.
“We consider ourselves to be one of those clubs because we’ve come a long way in a short space of time. We were at the wrong end of the table this time last year and we weren’t in a position to ask questions of teams at the top of the table – this season we are.
“Tottenham have been largely excellent at home and represent a big test for us. I know they had a surprise defeat to Wolves at the weekend, but they are usually very accomplished at White Hart Lane. They carry a big attacking threat and have some outstanding footballers – but the same could be said of us.
Beating them in their own backyard would be a big statement from us and we want to continue the unbeaten run we’re on and look to extend it this evening.
Despite recording an eighth draw in nine league games at the Reebok Stadium last Saturday, Hughes is only concentrating on the positives from the stirring 3-3 draw that extended the unbeaten run to 13 in all competitions.
“We showed great qualities at Bolton where we earned a point in difficult circumstances,” he said. “We did really well because we were 3-2 down and reduced to ten men with 30 minutes to go, so I think we showed real courage and determination to get something out of the game.
“We don’t view a draw with Bolton in a negative light or feel it has dented our confidence. It came on the back of beating Arsenal and Chelsea, so if we can beat Tottenham as well, it will have been a terrific few weeks.
“From our point of view we’re one of the most consistent teams in the Premier League in terms of not being beaten. What we’ve failed to do on a number of occasions is convert draws into victories. I’ve always felt my teams are stronger in the second half of the season and I believe we’ll turn potential draws into wins as the season progresses.”
“You have to help yourself by taking points off the teams you feel are going to be in and around you come April or May and there’s a good chance Tottenham will be there or thereabouts. If we can take points off them now it could prove to be crucial come the end of the season.”
City will be without Craig Bellamy (suspended) and Shaun Wright-Phillips (injured) for tonight’s game