LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Andre Villas-Boas has warned Tottenham cannot afford further setbacks if they want to feature in the Premier League title race.
Spurs have already suffered two defeats this season and head to Everton on Sunday looking to avoid a repeat of last season's loss at Goodison Park.
And, having seen his team narrowly fail to claim a place in the Champions League last season, Tottenham manager Villas-Boas knows his team cannot afford to throw points away again this time around.
"We've spoken about (last year's) result as the deciding factor for us not making it into the Champions League because everything changed quite dramatically," Villas-Boas said.
"It serves us as a lesson to be kept aware of and it's not something we want to see again." Villas-Boas' side will have to keep Romelu Lukaku quiet if they are to come away with something from Goodison Park this time around.
Lukaku has scored five goals in seven games since joining on loan from Chelsea, where he used to work under Villas-Boas.
The pair enjoyed a rocky relationship as the Belgian was angered at being left on the sidelines during Villas-Boas' shortlived reign during the 2011-12 season.
Villas-Boas insists there is no longer any animosity and is impressed with how his old player has progressed.
"The player did extremely well last season at West Brom and has continued to do well for Everton," Villas-Boas added.
"The potential is there. We all recognise he can become an influential striker in the future.
"Chelsea's standards are very, very high so the jump will be very difficult for him.
"But he has shown he can cope with the Premier League and it's another step up for him at Everton." Despite warning his side to remain in the hunt, Villas-Boas claims the table has yet to take shape.
"From eighth to first place it is very, very tight and we will see teams going up and down," added Villas-Boas.
"It has broken a little from seventh place up to first now. But Manchester United have played all of the most difficult fixtures and can look at the calendar with a little more positivity than others."
Meanwhile, Everton midfielder Leon Osman admits Tottenham deserve credit for the way they have performed without Gareth Bale following his departure to Real Madrid just before the transfer deadline.
Spurs made a string of signings to replace the Wales forward and Osman has been impressed with how quickly the club have moved on after selling their star player.
"To lose your talisman and the man who's been regarded as the one to stop for the last few seasons and to still be winning games the way they are definitely deserves credit," Osman said.
"They've spread their goals and assists out throughout their team and that's all credit to the manager and their squad.
"They've strengthened in a few areas and they look like a very good team." Everton were pipped to a Europa League place by Tottenham last season and Osman believes if they can finish above Spurs in this campaign they will bring continental football back to Goodison Park.
"I think if you do finish above them this year, you'll certainly qualify for Europe," Osman added.
"They'll be pushing for a minimum of the top four, so if you finish above Tottenham you'll have had quite a good season." Everton manager Roberto Martinez is set to be without striker Arouna Kone as he nurses a knee injury, while centre-back Antolin Alcaraz (hamstring) is still on the sidelines.