Ryan Nelsen
Nelsen's experience at Blackburn has made him a top signing for Tottenham, Dawson said. REUTERS

Michael Dawson has hailed Ryan Nelsen as a 'fantastic' signing for Tottenham this season, with the New Zealand international making the move to White Hart Lane just after deadline day.

Nelsen was a surprise signing for Harry Redknapp, who at the time was fighting charges of tax evasion, which he was later found not guilty of. But after Blackburn released Nelsen from his contract by mutual consent, it was announced that the 36 year old was headed south to help Spurs in their pursuit of a Champions League spot.

And despite Nelsen being one of the oldest players in the squad, his performance against Stevenage in the FA Cup was second to none, according to Dawson.

"I thought Ryan was fantastic," Dawson told the official Tottenham website.

"We changed the formation a little, played myself, Younes and Ryan, he played in the middle and he was outstanding.

"He won everything in the air, was strong and played really well. He showed all his experience in what was a real test for us against a big, physical team."

Tottenham made a couple of curious signings in the January window, with Louis Saha coming in as a replacement for the outgoing Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Some pundits speculated that the striker may not be up to speed after suffering ongoing injuries at Everton, but he has thus far proven his critics wrong, scoring twice to take the side to a 5-0 thrashing over Newcastle.

This weekend Tottenham will be hoping that Nelsen and Saha are both at their best, as Spurs prepare to take on Arsenal in the north London derby.

In recent years Tottenham haven't been favourites to overcome their rivals, but with the side currently the only serious threat to Manchester United and Manchester City for the title, it could well be their chance to show that they are the number one side north of the capital.