League Cup | Fresh Spurs - Part 2

League Cup

Capital One Cup Final: Tottenham v Chelsea Preview

So we meet again. Seven years after a glorious day at Wembley, Tottenham will try to repeat the trick and overcome Chelsea to win the Capital One Cup. Much has changed since 2008; only Younes Kaboul and John Terry remain from the squads that day, while of course neither of the managers were involved.

Back then a Juande Ramos-led Spurs were facing Avram Grant’s team, and while there was talk of unrest in the Chelsea camp following the Mourinho sacking, they were still finding ways to win. Don’t forget that they were a penalty kick away from winning the Champion’s League that same season. This time we’re facing Jose Mourinho after his return last season, but against a team that have slightly levelled off from their performances pre-Christmas.

While there was a drop-off from Chelsea towards the end of 2014, there’s no doubt that a 5-3 loss at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day was quite a knock to the confidence. There was a lack of rotation in the autumn months when surely they could have gotten away with resting a few important players now and again. A strategy of throwing the same players out there game after game always catches up with teams when spring arrives, as we know all too well.

As for Spurs, there’s been a lot generally to feel good about. While it took time to get to grips with the tactical demands of Mauricio Pochettino, enough players, if not all of them, have adapted to make the team a tough proposition for anyone.  The big question for Spurs is how the team will react to Thursday’s Europa League-ending loss loss at Fiorentina; while many of what we would call our best eleven were rested or saw time on the field as a substitute, we will just have to hope that there isn’t a squad-wide hangover from what turned out to be a very poor performance.

While league records or recent form are hardly very important in judging a team’s prospects, both meetings between the two teams are instructive. At Stamford Bridge, Spurs made a number of early chances and didn’t convert, while Chelsea had plenty of space in which to play and punished us with three goals. At White Hart Lane, we saw perhaps the performance of the season as Spurs ripped into their London rivals, while not even a one goal deficit presented a problem. They were clinical in their finishing and swarmed all over the league leaders, in a style that Pochettino will expect to see regularly against everyone by next season.

The 2008 team focused a lot of play against the weak link of the Chelsea team in Juliano Belletti; with Branislav Ivanovic in situ I wouldn’t expect to see that again, but there are weak spaces that Spurs may exploit. The loss of Nemanja Matic is hugely important, even if it doesn’t swing the tie as much as Mourinho wants the media to believe. Harry Kane was a devastating force when he found room in front of the defence in January; what can he do with the best defensive shield in the Premier League missing from the game? You can expect that the strong but immobile pairing of John Terry and Gary Cahill aren’t looking forward to finding out, although the promising Kurt Zouma is an option too.

Defensively, Spurs will face a huge test from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard in particular, while old nemesis Didier Drogba will be aching to spring from the bench. Expect Kyle Walker and Danny Rose to be selective in their runs forward, while the central positions are up for debate for Spurs. Is Federico Fazio the best option against Costa due to his strength and knowledge of the striker from their La Liga days? Or was his selection on Thursday a sign that Eric Dier is getting the nod instead?

Whatever happens over the 90 or 120 minutes, it does seem like the team is on the right track under the Argentinean, but a cup in his first season would be a major achievement, and hopefully a pre-cursor to further success in the years to come. Come On You Spurs.

Has Tottenham’s Day Of Destiny Arrived?

When I step foot on Wembley Way this Sunday the overwhelming feeling (aside from the nerves) will be pride. Because for the first time since our Champions League exploits four years ago, Spurs have taken a cup competition seriously. And for that our reward is a day out at the home of English football. 31,000 buoyant Spurs fans converging on North West London in the hope that Spurs will claim the first piece of silverware up for grabs this season.

Standing in the way just happens to be the best side in English football at the moment, managed by the best manager in world football. With only three defeats to their name in all competitions, Chelsea, on the face of it, seem an impenetrable force. But then you remember who one of those defeats came against. New Year’s Day, 2015. Jose Mourinho’s men dismantled at White Hart Lane. Only the second time the Portuguese has seen one of his teams concede five goals in one game. Spurs are in esteemed company with the first being Barcelona. Suddenly, that glimmer of hope for Sunday’s showpiece is reignited.

Any cup final is much more than just a 90 minute game of football. It’s more than 120 minutes, if it goes that far. Even more than a penalty shootout, God forbid. It’s the whole experience. It’s the build-up throughout the week. It’s getting the train up to London. It’s giving a sly look to those in royal blue and a beaming grin to those in lilywhite. It’s getting the tube to Wembley Park Station and feeling the butterflies in your stomach when you see the famous arch in all its glory. It’s buying the hideously overpriced matchday programme. It’s walking through those turnstiles and taking your seat, before realising that the moment you’ve been counting down the days to for weeks is all very real. It’s all of these things and more.

But most of all it’s about sharing these moments with the people (or person) you care about most. And for me, that person is my mum. The person who ensured I grew up supporting Spurs, just as she did. And for that I’ll be forever grateful.

I would be lying if I said the result isn’t important. Of course it is. Losing to Chelsea is never nice, let alone losing to them in a cup final. And the feeling you get from winning a cup final is unlike anything else you will experience as a football fan. Just ask any Spurs supporter who was at Wembley in 2008. But given how starved of success we have been in recent seasons, just reaching this stage seems an achievement in itself. The togetherness in this squad is refreshing to see. I believe this is largely due to there being a perfect blend between Spurs supporting academy products and highly esteemed internationals. Everybody appears to be pulling in the same direction, and that direction has been set by the head coach for once. How fitting it would be for Pochettino to crown what has so far been a successful first season at Spurs by lifting the club’s first piece of silverware in seven years.

But whatever the result on Sunday, I for one will be honoured to have joined Spurs on what has been a roller-coaster journey. From the dismantling of Newcastle under the lights at White Hart Lane, to the scenes in the Sheffield snow following Eriksen’s late strike. It truly has been spectacular.

 

VINES: THREE Of Tottenham’s Best Late Winners This Season

Over the course of this season, we have seen Spurs score many late winners this season, and many have brought us the same feeling time and time again.

The fitness of the squad this season under Mauricio Pochettino has bought us much joy and delight in the amount of late goals we have seen our side score.

Although they are all special goals, and give us the same feeling every time, some are just that little bit more special than others, here are our top three late winners of the season.

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

Vorm Starts! Tottenham Team News And Predicted Lineup To Face Sheffield United

Tottenham have a 1-0 lead to protect when they pay a visit to Sheffield United in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. The job is by no means taken care of as far as Spurs are concerned, an Andros Townsend penalty is all that separates the two sides after the first ninety minutes.

A cup final at Wembley Stadium against Chelsea is the prize for the winner of this tie, who beat Liverpool over two legs. This would be Spurs’ first trip to Wembley under Mauricio Pochettino, and the club’s first since seven years ago when they triumphed in this competrition against Chelsea to win the Carling Cup in 2007.

Team News:

Nacer Chadli has returned from compassionate leave following the passing of his father, however, it is unlikely that he will appear here. Nabil Bentaleb is still away on international duty with Algeria.

Predicted Line-Up (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm:

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino remains adamant that goalkeeper Michel Vorm will bounce back from his horror mistake that he made in the final minutes against Leicester in the FA Cup. To be fair to him, we could have lost that game 1-3, or perhaps 1-4 if he hadn’t made some key saves in the opening stages of the match.

Defence: Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose:

Ben Davies didn’t have the best of games last week in the first leg at White Hart Lane, and Danny Rose should start in the second leg. Eric Dier looked strong and solid in the first game, and looks a very good player in his first season at the club. Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen, along with Danny Rose, are first team regulars, and Mauricio Pochettino could name these three in his back four.

Midfield (Holding): Benjamin Stambouli, Mousa Dembele:

Pochettino will be keen to get that away goal and pull away from Sheffield United early on in the piece. This means that the Argentine will be tempted to field a very string team in order to do this, despite facing a trip to West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday. Both have looked good this season, and look like they are the ones to beat to a starting place in this tie, although Ryan Mason will be knocking on the door. However, it is possible that he is being rested for the Premier League clash at the weekend.

Midfield (Attacking): Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Andros Townsend:

Away from the penalties, Townsend’s performances have been very good inn recent weeks, and could line-up in the left wing position due to the absence of Nacer Chadli. Christian Eriksen has also been pivotal to picking up points this season. Lamela also had a good game against Leicester on Saturday.

Striker: Harry Kane:

Personally, I think that Kane operates better on his own up front, I feel it gives him more freedom. Anyway, like Eriksen, he has been key to picking up points this season, and going along with the theme that Mauricio Pochettino will field a strong team, he should start.

THREE Things Pochettino’s Men Must Do To Reach Wembley

Tomorrow night, Sheffield United host Tottenham Hotspur for the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi finals. Despite leading from an Andros Townsend penalty, us as fans can’t help but feel that we need more than a 1-0 aggregate score to cermet our place in the final. Here is what the squad need to do in order to beat Sheffield tomorrow night. Use the page numbers to navigate!

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.

Tottenham v Sheffield United: FOUR Key Players

Tottenham face Sheffield United in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final, and after observing Sheffield’s League One clash with MK Dons, I have picked out two key players for Tottenham, and two key players for the Blades.

Spurs grabbed another late winner against Sunderland at White Hart Lane to win 2-1. Mauricio Pochettino could make changes to the side that faced Sunderland, although I wouldn’t be too surprised if he keeps the foundations of the team that started against Sunderland. Sheffield United fell to a 1-0 defeat to MK Dons on Saturday.

Soldado Starts! Tottenham Team News And Predicted Lineup To Face Sheffield United

After another late 2-1 win, this time over Sunderland, Tottenham will be looking to take an advantage into the second leg at Bramell Lane when they face off with Sheffield United at White Hart Lane. The Blades have knocked out some big sides in cup competitions this season, claiming some huge scalps, but they did lose 1-0 at MK Dons on Saturday afternoon. Here is the team news and predicted line-up.

Team News:

Ryan Mason is once again available for selection as he could make his first appearance for Spurs since New Year’s Day when he had to come off with a hamstring problem. Erik Lamela remains out with a calf complaint, but could return this weekend against Leicester. Nabil Bentaleb is away on international duty. Nacer Chadli has returned home to Belgian after hearing news that his father has past away.

Predicted Line-Up (4-4-2):

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm:

Vorm is our cup goalkeeper, so it is only fair that he starts, as he had done for all of the competition. He has not been called upon an awful lot, but when he has been forced into action, he has been very solid, showing great composure with the ball in his hands and his feet too.

Defence: Kyle Walker, Federico Fazio, Younes Kaboul, Ben Davies:

I think that Mauricio Pochettino will make three changes to the defensive unit for the semi-finals. Kyle Walker should retain his place, although he faces competition from Vlad Chiriches, who scored in Tottenham’s last cup game in the FA Cup against Burnley. Federico Fazio should make his return to the side, and could possibly partner Younes Kaboul in the heart of the defence. Ben Davies and Danny Rose have been battling it out for a Premier League place, and Danny Rose has once again staked his claim in the Premier League, so I expect Ben Davies to start at White Hart Lane.

Midfield: Andros Townsend, Benjamin Stambouli, Etienne Capoue, Christian Eriksen:

Due to the absence of Nacer Chadli, we could well see our star man Christian Eriksen start on the left wing, as he did so often under Tim Sherwood. Etienne Capoue scored a crucial goal on the stroke of half-time against Burnley in the FA Cup, and we could see him appear again against Sheffield United. Andros Townsend could make another appearance after good performances in his last two games.

Strikers: Roberto Soldado, Harry Kane:

Soldado’s opportunities to impress have come in cup competitions this season, and he has scored a large majority of his goals in the cup, away from league action. Kane and the Spaniard usually work well together and this game should be no exception. I think that Mauricio Pochettino will go and attack this game, in an attempt to gain a strong lead going into the second leg of this semi-final.

 

Player Ratings – Spurs 4 – 0 Newcastle United

Tottenham booked themselves a place in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup with an emphatic 4-0 win over Premier League opponents Newcastle United.

It was a Glory Glory night for Spurs as young breakthrough Nabil Bentaleb registered his first senior goal in a Spurs shirt to hand us a half time lead after Jak Alnwick had spilled Christian Eriksen’s corner.

And after the break Spurs showed no signs of slowing up, with Nacer Chadli repeating the trick that the Toon pulled on us in the League just a few weeks back by slotting home less than a minute after the restart.

That was a blow from which Alan Pardew’s side never recovered, and Harry Kane’s 19th goal of the season sealed the win after Mousa Dembele and Andros Townsend’s interchange on the edge of the box saw the Englishman through one on one.

There was just enough time for Roberto Soldado to tap home Christian Eriksen’s rebounded shot before the renditions of “Spurs Are On The Way To Wembley” dominated the remainder of the game.

Player Ratings

Michel Vorm 7 – A wonderfully impressive finish to the game from Vorm who had little to do until the final 20 minutes. Tested by Armstrong and Perez late on, Vorm proved he is a vital second team keeper.

Vlad Chiriches 7 – Began showing signs of a real right back tonight, especially when he tested Alnwick with his Walker-esque 25-yard drive. Stood the test of Gouffran well and Cabella didn’t phase him.

Federico Fazio 7 – I think this was a really solid game from Fazio who seems to have struck up a partnership with Jan finally. Stays on his feet in the tackle and is invaluable defending set-pieces. Riviere had nothing.

Jan Vertonghen 8 – Last time I claimed Jan was back to his best he then continued to embarrass himself against Loic Remy of Chelsea, so I wont say that again. But Jan’s reading of the game is as good as it gets and he was unlucky to have a goal-bound header cleared off the line by Haiadara.

Danny Rose 7 – Was an excellent outlet on the left flank which was opened up after Nacer Chadli left the field. He and the Belgian had linked up well in the first half but in the second he was given grass to run at.

Benjamin Stambouli 7 – Played an important role – more so in the second half – in covering Bentaleb’s forward ventures. Missed a few tackles but was overall impressive, doing what he does best.

Nabil Bentaleb 8 – This kid is special, and tonight he was fantastic. Grabbed his first senior Tottenham goal and deserved it, too. Has run his socks off and got a great ovation for it.

Nacer Chadli 7 – Scored a superb goal just 30 seconds into the second period, and reached the byline countless times. Not afraid to take the cross on on his weaker foot – take heed Lamela.

Christian Eriksen 8 – Running the show again! Must have had double the touches of any other player, he was absolutely everywhere. Deserved a goal for sure and his set-pieces have improved wonderfully.

Harry Kane 7 – 19 goals this season? That’s ridiculous! Nobody deserves his place in the semi-finals as much as Harry, who’s now scored every round this season. Took his goal wonderfully and stuck to his number 9 position better than recent occasions as a lone striker.

SUBS

Mousa Dembele 7 – An important sub, came on and bulked out the midfield as well as adding some creativity. Involved in Kane’s goal.

Roberto Soldado 6 – Came on and grabbed a goal – probably should have had 2 if he could stay onside.

Etienne Capoue N/a

We’ve been drawn against Sheffield United in the Semi Final of the Capital One Cup. Avoiding Chelsea AND Liverpool to give us our best chance of a trophy in years.

We’re expected to get there. Whether that will play to our strengths or not remains to be seen, but a vastly inferior opposition now stands in our way.

Lets enjoy this while it lasts.

Quee Seraa Seraaaa…