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THREE Selection Headaches Pochettino Faces Ahead Of Wembley Showdown

Mauricio Pochettino has the chance to make history this weekend as Spurs face Chelsea at Wembley for the chance to lift the Capital One Cup in his debut season as manager at the Lane.

This season has given us some unbelievable highs and so will go down as a positive one whatever the result, but the opportunity to win our first silverware since we won the same fixture 6 years ago this week is one that is not to be sniffed at.

Poch gave us a big clue as to what side he’ll put out to start the 2015 League Cup Final, by resting the likes of Christian Eriksen against West Ham before pulling Jan Vertonghen and Nabil Bentaleb from the action early as we lost to Fiorentina.

However, he’s not completely in the safe zone when it comes to selecting his side. The Argentine has a few decisions that will need some deep thought…

Player Ratings – Fiorentina 2 – 0 Spurs (3-1 agg.)

jan fioren

Our European adventure came to a disappointing end at the hands of Serie A side Fiorentina tonight as individual errors cost a sloppy Spurs dearly.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side went into the clash at a disadvantage having conceded the away goal in last week’s 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, but a period of early pressure saw Spurs in the driving seat for most of the first half.

The turning point came towards the end of the half when Roberto Soldado was sent clean through on the Fiorentina goal, before squandering a tap in for Nacer Chadli with a pathetically weak assist.

The Italians broke the deadlock in the second half when Mario Gomez capitalized upon Federico Fazio’s limp pass to slot past Hugo Lloris, before Jan Vertonghen had a similar moment of madness to allow Mohammed Salah in to seal the deal.

The Egyptian’s goal was the sucker punch that ended the tie and came with a hint of irony thanks to the winger’s loan from Chelsea…

Player Ratings

Hugo Lloris 6 – Little to do for the majority of the game but was beaten easily by Mario Gomez’s low finish. Thankfully the captain made it out of the game unscathed in time for Sunday…

Vlad Chiriches 6 – I thought he had an *alright* game at right-back considering it’s only his 2nd or 3rd game there this season, and some of his deliveries were surprisingly decent. Still a bit sketchy.

Jan Vertonghen 6 – Bad timing for Jan who has a big test ahead of him this weekend. Absolutely gifted Salah his goal having dealt with Gomez well in the majority. Subbed early-ish and is a cert for Wembley.

Federico Fazio 5 – A liability due to his (lack of) pace and responsibly solely for the Fiorentina first. Looks fairly likely that Eric Dier will regain his place in the side for the Cup final.

Ben Davies 6 – Disappointing final product and was dominated by the rapid Salah. Overlapped Chadli well in the first half but couldn’t pick out a man. Rose in.

Benjamin Stambouli 6 – Drifted in and out of the game with some moments of eyebrow-raising skill mixed in with the odd suicidal moment. The tricks are all well and good as long as they don’t hand the ball to the opposition…

Nabil Bentaleb 6 – Was involved in a lot of good in the first half, carrying the ball out more than his midfield partner. Subbed early also, meaning the Arch surely awaits for the mature 20-year-old.

Erik Lamela 5 – Back in Italy where he made his name (and pricetag), but again there was no final product from the Argentine. Way too lightweight for the system at the minute, and no shots at goal registered.

Christian Eriksen 6 – Certainly not the best performance I’ve seen from the Dane, who failed to create much in front of goal. Saving himself for Sunday? I hope so. Plus two of his free-kick hit the wall…

Nacer Chadli 6 – Carried the ball to the byline as much as anybody but couldn’t unleash at goal. The goals have dried up but Nacer has to start on Sunday for me.

Roberto Soldado 4 – I’ve said it before, but tonight might just have been the final straw for Bobby. His squandered chance for Chadli in the first half has to be seen to be believed and it didn’t get much better. Cue Capital One Cup Final hat-trick…

SUBS

Andros Townsend 5 – Ran it into corners. Frustrating.

Harry Kane 5 – You can tell he’s trying hard when he’s got the ball on the halfway line. But had little impact.

Kyle Walker N/a

Player Ratings – Spurs 2 – 2 West Ham United

It was Harry Kane’s turn to be the late hero as he smashed home a 95th minute rebound to rescue a point in our North London Derby with West Ham.

Kane was felled by Hammers captain Alex Song with just seconds of the 5 minutes added time remaining, before he saw his weak penalty saved by Adrian. However the sprawling ‘keeper could do nothing to deny the Englishman’s 24th goal of the season as he followed it up from 2 yards.

Spurs had put in a shocker overall, with Cheikou Kouyate’s opener enhanced by Diafra Sakho’s second half finish thanks to some questionable defending.

However, Danny Rose’s scuffed volley found it’s way into the net with 10 minutes of normal time remaining to give Pochettino’s plucky side hope of yet another late show.

And the pressure paid off when John Moss pointed to the spot in the dying moments to break Hammers hearts.

Player Ratings

Hugo Lloris 6 – Saw a lot more of the ball than he usually does, but made some crucial saves to keep the score down. Namely his reactions stop from Enner Valencia with the score at 2-0.

Kyle Walker 6 – Made the odd break and as usual, relied on pace to amend his errors. Looked shy to get forward – as if still carrying a knock – and preferred to cut back rather than deliver on most occasions.

Jan Vertonghen 6 – Caught out of position for Kouyate’s goal, and missed a great chance from Christian Eriksen’s corner. Really should have dealt with that first goal.

Eric Dier 5 – Looked very uncomfortable, misplacing passes and getting the basics wrong. He’s certainly our long-term partner for Jan but today, like many, he was off the pace.

Danny Rose 6 – Would have been my man of the match were it not for his Fabian Barthez-esque calling for offside as Diafra Sakho made it 2-0. Scored a fairly lucky goal but was a threat going forward all game, even when it was just him.

Nabil Bentaleb 7 – Was my man of the match. Looked the best of all our midfielders despite his inexperience, and nearly cracked home a brilliant 25-yarder. Plays with such composure, even with Fat Sam’s 6 in midfield.

Ryan Mason 6 – Whole-hearted display from Mason again, who isn’t shy of goal it seems. Came close a few times but the decision to shoot was the wrong one on occasion.

Erik Lamela 5 – Another disappointing display from the one player we want to succeed more than any. Pushed off the ball so so easily, a gust of wind could have Lamela on the floor. Couldn’t get hold of it at all.

Mousa Dembele 3 – As shockers go, this one was the worst. Absolute stinker from Mousa who made way for Eriksen at half time. Responsible for the shambolic first goal.

Andros Townsend 6 – Pretty quiet as he goes, turning down the opportunities he had to go for goal. Predictably left-footed and failed to provide width despite some willing running.

Harry Kane 6 – Largely anonymous for most of the game, but the facts don’t lie! Kane found the net for the 12th time in 11 games, a ridiculous record in what is pretty much his debut season.

SUBS

Christian Eriksen 6 – Although he didn’t necessarily do much, the whole game changed with the introduction of Christian. Whether that was down to mentality or tactics, I don’t know, but he needs to be playing.

Roberto Soldado 5 – A weird change considering we needed width, but Bobby did have a chance to win the game late on. He’ll fancy his chances over Kane from the spot next time…

Nacer Chadli N/a

Assou-Ekotto Finally Released From Spurs

Controversial Spurs left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been released from his contract with the side, the club has confirmed.

Spurs took to Twitter to officially announce that the Cameroonian had had his contract terminated, having failed to appear in a Spurs shirt since May 2013.

Assou-Ekotto joined from Lens in 2006, and was an important part of the side that made the Champions League quarter-finals in 2010, building up an impressive 200 appearances.

“Benny” scored 4 times for Tottenham, however, a combination of poor form and off the pitch antics left the 30-year-old heavily out of favour at the Lane.

He found himself involved in the Nicholas Anelka “Quenelle” scandal last season and was marooned by Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood and finally Mauricio Pochettino, who felt that the defender was a “disruptive influence”.

He had a fairly unsuccessful loan spell at Queens Park Rangers before seeing his £40,000-a-week contract ended.
Good luck in the future, BAE!

Spurs Winger Set For Late Deadline Day Everton Move

Aaron Lennon has been rumoured to be signing for a ridiculous number of sides this Transfer Deadline Day – but Everton are now favourites to snatch the winger on loan for the rest of the season.

He looked set for a switch to Stoke City having rejected the advances of Leicester and Hull in the past few days, but a last minute U-turn could see him join Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park.

Lennon is currently Spurs’ longest serving player having signed from Leeds United in 2005, and has racked up over 360 appearances for the Lilywhites in all competitions. However, he is out of favour with Mauricio Pochettino as he looks for more creative widemen.

Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend have all been preferred out wide to Lennon, who has 30 goals in Spurs colours, so a move to a fellow Premier League side is on the cards for the 27-year old.

A loan move to Everton should open the door to a move for Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas, who has had personal trouble at the Toffees in recent weeks, and is a big transfer target for admiring Pochettino.

Lennon has been a great servant to Spurs in his 10 years at the Club, but a switch to the struggling Merseyside club now looks imminent.

Done Dele! Dele Alli Set to Sign from MK Dons, Undergoing Medical

Numerous sources are claiming that Spurs are set to announce the signing of highly rated youngster Dele Alli from Milton Keynes.

Tottenham are yet to have made a successful move on Transfer Deadline Day, or indeed throughout the January transfer window with the related headlines dominated by potential outgoings.

However, 18-year-old Alli – who has been a target for Newcastle and Aston Villa in recent weeks – looks to have chosen Spurs as he was spotted at Hotspur Way with the clock ticking down on the final day of the window.

A fee for the youngster is said to be in the region of £5million, while Alli will be loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of the season.

He made his debut for the Dons aged just 16, and has since accumulated over 70 appearances for the League One side with 20 goals from midfield.

Alli managed the full 90 minutes as his side shocked Manchester United 4-0 at Stadium MK back in August, where a number of top clubs had scouts in the stands to watch the talented engine room, including Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Newcastle United also submitted a £5million bid for the England U19 man on Thursday, but he is now favourite to join Spurs with his medical supposedly in progress.

One Of Our Own! Kane Pens Deadline Day Deal

Spurs wonderkid Harry Kane has given Spurs fans the news they all wanted to hear on Deadline Day by putting pen to paper on a new five and a half year deal.

The 21-year-old has an incredible 20 goals for Spurs this season – setting him apart as the highest scoring Premier League player – one ahead of Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He’s tipped to be part of Roy Hodgson’s next England squad, for friendlies against Lithuania on 27 March and Italy on 31 March, following yet another amazing Premier League display this weekend against West Brom.

Kane hit another brace to take him up to 10 Premier League goals – an impressive feat having only made the starting eleven in October – along with 8 goals in 10 games for the England U21 side.

And the local lad was seemingly delighted to have penned the new deal, taking to Twitter to express himself:

It might not be a big-money transfer, but it’s a dream deal for Spurs fans!

Player Ratings: Sheffield United 2-2 Spurs (Agg 2-3)

Christian Eriksen’s late show sent Spurs to Wembley at the expense of Nigel Clough’s battling Sheffield on a snowy night at Brammall Lane.

The Dane had put Spurs in the driving seat with a simply stunning free-kick in the first half, rooting the United ‘keeper to the spot with his swinging effort.

But 18-year-old substitute Che Adams had other ideas when he came on late in the second period, side footing home his first goal for the club to level the scores on the night, beore seeing his effort deflected in off a sprawling Eric Dier to level it on aggregate.

But as extra-time loomed large, Eriksen was sent through by a pin-point Harry Kane through ball and finished with ridiculous composure to send the travelling Spurs faithful into a winter wonderland.

Que Sera Sera!

Player Ratings

Michel Vorm 6 – a shaky start for Vorm after his recent blunder but it was enough on the night. Couldn’t do much about Adams’ second due to the deflection but might be disappointed at the first.

Kyle Walker 7 – Made up for his few errors with some tenacious defending, and his block from Vorm’s first half mistake was exemplary for the rest of the game. A great outlet on the right.

Eric Dier 6 – Unlucky to see his block fly into the top corner and was left out of place by Flynn’s crossing, but another composed display from the youngster.

Jan Vertonghen 7 – Similar to Dier, with some superb moments of composure as Sheffield pressed. Captained the side to Wembley.

Ben Davies 6 – Did his homework and dealt with Jamal Campbell-Ryce well. His replacement caused some stress when he started swinging crosses in from the right but once again, we did enough.

Benjamin Stambouli 8 – Excellent game from Benji, who was rock solid all game in front of the back 4. Set plays up and sat at the base of the attack wonderfully.

Ryan Mason 7 – Ferocious defence from the breakthrough youngster, who broke from midfield wonderfully to cause the Sheffield defence problems. Superb skill and balance, taking one for the team with his yellow card.

Erik Lamela 6 – Positive display from the Argentine, who carried the ball well but couldn’t get a sight of goal. Helped Walker out well on the right with some great tracking back.

Christian Eriksen 8 – Quite simply brilliant. Took us to Wembley with two moments of incredible skill, his free kick and his composed last minute finish. Champagne’s on him.

Mousa Dembele 8 – I thought Mousa was fantastic also tonight, keeping possession better than anybody on the pitch. Effortlessly shouldered away opposing midfielders.

Harry Kane 7 – Found the gaps in the Sheffield high line and was unlucky not to find the net. Tested the ‘keeper when nobody else would and created chances out of nothing when he went unsupported.

SUBS

Paulinho 6 – Injection of energy in a floundering midfield.

Andros Townsend N/a – couldn’t get the ball but valuable defensively.

Danny Rose N/a

‘HALFWAY THERE!’ – Twitter Reacts to Spurs Semi Win

Spurs have one foot on the coach to Wembley having beaten Sheffield United 1-0 in the first leg of our Capital One Cup semi-final at the Lane. Spurs will now take a lead to Brammel Lane next Wednesday, meaning that Sheffield must score three goals if Spurs score early on in the away leg.

The nervous Spurs support bared witness to a largely dominating display where Pochettino’s men took the vast majority of possession, as the League 1 side sat back and looked for counter attacking opportunities. Many became frustrated as the game went on, but Spurs eventually found the breakthrough, from the penalty spot

Andros Townsend’s second half penalty proved to be the difference to hand the side a 1-0 advantage to take to Brammall Lane for the second leg next week.
As usual, Twitter was a hive for reaction as the cagey home leg took place:

Player Ratings – Spurs 1 – 0 Sheffield United

Andros Townsend’s 2nd half penalty handed Spurs the advantage in the first leg of our Capital One Cup Semi Final against Sheffield United.

The Blades were under the cosh for the majority of the game, with Pochettino’s side even reaching up to 85% possession at times as the midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend probed for an opener.

But Nigel Clough’s side still held a threat on the break, with Jamal Campbell-Ryce getting the better of Ben Davies to give United the best chance of the first half.

The turning point came through the unlikely figure of Roberto Soldado, on in place of Emmanuel Adebayor, who exquisitely brought Jan Vertonghen’s clipped pass out of the air before Jay McEverley handled inside the 6 yard box.

Townsend converted coolly and Spurs saw the somewhat anti-climatic Semi-Final out to take a small lead to Brammall Lane next week.

Player Ratings

Michel Vorm 6 – Out quickly at the feet of anybody who entered his area but went massively untroubled. The odd catch here and there but nothing hugely promising going forward for Sheffield.

Ben Davies 4 – Given a torrid time by Jamal Campbell-Ryce – United’s only real threat on the counter. Given very little support by Eriksen and later Kane on the left but will be glad that the winger couldn’t pick anyone in red out.

Jan Vertonghen 7 – My Man of the Match for his rigid and composed display. The partnership with him and Dier is all he more attractive than that with Fazio in my opinion, and Jan ending the night with the armband was very apt. Solid both on the ground and in the air.

Eric Dier 6 – Much the same as Vertonghen, and provided some much needed brawn as Sheffield pushed for corners. Could easily have been playing defensive midfield for the large part.

Kyle Walker 6 – Couldn’t stretch the opposition back 4 as much as he would have liked, especially against his old side. The trip to Brammall Lane is in danger of getting the better of the local lad, but there were promising signs with him and Andros.

Benjamin Stambouli 6 – A pretty defensive approach but solid from the Frenchman. Maybe wasn’t needed due to Sheffield’s lack of fight in the first half and was lost when they countered but fitted nicely at the base of our attack.

Ryan Mason 4 – Disappointing return from injury for Mason who looked off the pace in the first period. Certainly tried too much with his passing, forcing errors. As ever, ran himself into the ground before tiring early due to match fitness.

Christian Eriksen 5 – Couldn’t work the space out on the left and was crowded out even more when he eventually moved inside. His shots at goal were rushed and set-pieces made me cry a little. Poor from Christian.

Andros Townsend 6 – Provided a boost of energy but had little chance to counter with the League 1 side sitting so deep. Tucked his penalty away nicely, something he is becoming known for.

Emmanuel Adebayor 5 – Hardly justified his inclusion in the side let alone his captaincy. Not necessarily “lazy”, just never found the space he needed to work an opening. Although, he should have hit the target with his first half volley.

SUBS

Roberto Soldado 6 – Provided more of a danger than Ade in my opinion and his touch for the goal was class.

Mousa Dembele 5 – No impact. Passenger.

Paulinho 6 – Another energetic display from the bench, putting him ahead of Dembele for me.