Results for League Cup

West ham game unimportant

12:30 pm

West Ham game unimportant in the bigger picture


We thought we had signed 32-year-old (33 next February) Fernando Llorente but no it seems we went for the more experienced 70-year-old (71 nxt March) Harry Redknapp!

Better luck in the next round Harry.

Talking of the next round, some folk on Twitter have already started to call for our strongest team to be played against West Ham United, whom we have just drawn in the competition.

We must assess the games around them as to put all our eggs in one basket to win a trophy could set the club back years. We all know, whether we care to admit it or not, that Spurs need to increase income to be able to pay higher wages with stadium payments to make for years to come. Qualifying for the UEFA Champions League is essential to that, it brings in more commercial revenue, bigger commercial deals as the brand name grows and we are seen playing the best sides in Europe regularly.

To do that we have to qualify through the Premier League, yes I know there is another way. Failure to do so slows down the day that arrives, it delays it, probably by years. The League Cup tie against West Ham United is not more important than winning trophies regularly for years to come and the sooner that day arrives the happier we will all be.


We can not play our strongest team against the Hammers as the fixtures surrounding the game show, or are these people suggesting we rest Kane, Lloris, Alderweireld, Eriksen against Liverpool or Manchester United or even Real Madrid?

COYS

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The stupid Dean Saunders comment
Fan Rants

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West ham game unimportant West ham game unimportant Reviewed by THBlogNews on 12:30 pm Rating: 5

The stupid Dean Saunders comment

7:37 am



Just like Tony Cascarino, failed manager Dean Saunders has to try and justify his employment as an expert so he came out with this pretty stupid comment last night.

"I was there for the Swansea Spurs game and I'll tell you what I was surprised at. I'm sure when I've played against Spurs over the years, they had like 30,000, 35,000 crowds. 
"There was 73,000 there. Now where have 35,000 Spurs fans come from all of a sudden? 50,000 went missing last night (vs Barnsley), 50,000 never went."


Now he is either stirring it because he has to say something and he'll get his name in the papers and presumably is hoping it will bring him more national work instead of being stuck doing things the majority of us never see or hear, or he has a screw loose.

As he well knows football has changed, if he doesn't know then he shouldn't be employed as a supposed expert. The League Cup in his day had greater meaning than it has today because of the importance of money now.

The financial rewards of UEFA Champions League football, the commercial rewards and thus the wages a team can pay, are determined by Premier League position. That therefore has to take priority, fans thus turn up to meaningful games.

With all due respect to Barnsley, who changed their own team for a game they deemed less important than the league, the game wasn't important. of course the club want to do their best in the competition and of course want to win it, and we'll celebrate if we do, but at this stage it is low priority.

If Dean saunders can't grasp something so simply then he needs to look for another job.

COYS

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The stupid Dean Saunders comment The stupid Dean Saunders comment Reviewed by THBlogNews on 7:37 am Rating: 5

Little creativity, little service for Janssen

10:42 pm

A great game to watch, a proper cup tie in which Liverpool had the greater creativity in the final third ultimately.

Vincent Janssen tucked away a penalty for us, but just like Roberto Soldado he is getting no service whatsoever. Everything played to him is with his back to goal.

There were at least two incidences where he made runs into the six-yard box, one with the ball on the left and one on the right. He attacked the six-yard box was in space and a low cross  might have picked him our, yet Davies blasted a high cross no centre-forward would have got anywhere near to the far touchline.

Then we were through on goal and Onomah I think had a shot the goalkeeper didn't spill but Janssen had a tap-in with the ball played across. He isn't fashioning chances for himself, but nobody is creating them for him either.

There was too much side-to-side passing when we could have attacked the box. Tom Carroll had acres of space in front of him 25 yards from goal in a line extending from the 18-yard box roughly. Instead of driving forward, he simply passed wide and N'Koudou was closed down with nowhere to go. That sums him up for me, he simply isn't good enough.

In those instances, you have to make defenders commit themselves and break up their defensive shield. We weren't going to do that with a ball simply passed out wide. It is an abdication of responsibility and demonstrates why we weren't good enough in the final third.

Lamela came on and tried to create, not everything came off, but that doesn't matter, you can't create unless you try and create without fear of failure. It's another mental thing we have to work on.



Little creativity, little service for Janssen Little creativity, little service for Janssen Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:42 pm Rating: 5

A very tough test expected tonight

5:24 pm
Liverpool-vs-Spurs

Liverpool vs Tottenham
England – League Cup
Date: Tuesday, 25th October 2016,
Kick-Off: 19:45 UK
Venue: Anfield Stadium, Liverpool

Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur usually means goals and with this being the League Cup and Tottenham playing a young side you would expect that trend to continue.

In the League Cup since 2002 we have met twice winning one round each. In 2004 Liverpool beat us in the quarter-final after the two legs both ended in 0-0 draws.

In 2008 we won 3-0 and lost 2-1 to go through 4-2 on aggregate in the fourth round.

With Liverpool not having qualified for Europe this season they can afford to play a strong side, while we will be looking to play the youngsters who played against Gillingham in the last round. It is a chance for a player like Harry Winks to show once again what he can do. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kevin Wimmer can renew their partnership, but they will have a far more demanding game than the one-sided rout of the Kent-based side.

Georges-Kevin N'Koudou came on in that game as did young Marcus Edwards. Josh Onomah scored his debut goal and Vincent Janssen tucked away a penalty.

The Spurs XI who started were: Vorm; Trippier, Carter-Vickers, Wimmer, Davies; Carroll, Winks; Lamela, Onomah, Eriksen (C); Janssen.

Subs: Whiteman, Vertonghen, Walkes, Wanyama, N'koudou, Edwards, Son.


A very tough test expected tonight A very tough test expected tonight Reviewed by THBlogNews on 5:24 pm Rating: 5

Pochettino: I'll show faith but you mist deliver

7:00 pm

Mauricio Pochettino fielded a young side against Gillingham in the League Cup and they came shining through 5-0 with some help from the senior players.

Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela played a prominent part while 21-year-old Georges-Kevin N'koudou, 18-year-old Cameron Carter-Vickers, 17-year-old Marcus Edwards and 18-year-old Anton Walkes all made their debuts. 

A similar youthful side will play in the next round at Anfield. Pochettino has confirmed this twice in press conferences now.

"For me, they are not kids or boys -- they are players, [who can] show and prove that they can compete and have the quality to stay in the first team. It is the same to play against Gillingham at White Hart Lane and against Liverpool at Anfield. 
"They need to show. We believe in them and if my team is the same as against Gillingham or some changes, they need to prove they have quality. You know, always the big, big players start their career and they need to make their debut sometimes in a difficult place like Anfield. 
"We are involved in Champions League and they [the younger players] are not involved in European competition so it is a good opportunity for our players who do not play too much or the younger players to build their reputation and build their career and confidence for the future."



Pochettino: I'll show faith but you mist deliver Pochettino: I'll show faith but you mist deliver Reviewed by THBlogNews on 7:00 pm Rating: 5

Video: Pochettino to play youngsters vs Liverpool

11:00 pm

POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

Mauricio Pochettino was very happy at the post-game press conference with the performance and Vincent Janssen getting a goal.

he said he was impressed with all the young academy players as they played with a lot of confidence and opposition manager Justin Edinburgh, who enjoyed 10 years at Spurs himself, picked out Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks and Tom Carroll as having very good games.

Pochettino confirmed he will still play a young team and give them chances to polay in the next round away to Liverpool even if they are playing a strong side. He feels it is important for the development of these players and for the development of the club.




Video: Pochettino to play youngsters vs Liverpool Video: Pochettino to play youngsters vs Liverpool Reviewed by THBlogNews on 11:00 pm Rating: 5

League Cup Draw - Klopp looking forward to Spurs

9:00 pm

LEAGUE CUP

League Cup Draw

The draw for the EFL (League Cup) FOURTH ROUND (last 16) has been made and we didn't get an easy game, whereas Chelsea and Arsenal picked up what should be simple opponents.  The ties will be played week beginning 24th October.

Fourth Round Draw
West Ham United vs Chelsea
Manchester United vs Manchester City
Arsenal vs Reading
Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur
Bristol City vs Hull City
Leeds United vs Norwich City 
Newcastle United vs Preston North End
Southampton vs Sunderland 

Liverpool vs Tottenham will take place on Tuesday October 25 at 7.45pm UK time and will be shown live on Sky Sports. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp though the draw had a semi-final look about it.

"I was waiting for the draw and then saw West Ham - Chelsea, a little smile to be honest; then Manchester United - City, oh nice, another smile; then a freeze in my face because we got Tottenham! But it’s good. I think it’s a big boost for the competition. 
"When I came here I had to explain why we field strong line-ups and now in the competition it looks like a semi-final each game. 
"It’s a big opportunity for all the teams, they all try to go through and you can see this with the line-ups. That’s pretty exciting. I am happy about playing at home. 
"When we cannot have European nights, let’s take what we can get. It will be fantastic and I am really looking forward to it."


League Cup Draw - Klopp looking forward to Spurs League Cup Draw - Klopp looking forward to Spurs Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:00 pm Rating: 5

Debut's galore

5:00 pm

SPURS 5 GILLINGHAM 0

Debut's galore

It was a night of total domination where Michel Vorm had virtually nothing to do.

Cameron Carter-Vickers had very little to do on his competitive debut, neither did Kevin Wimmer. Tom Carroll and Harry Winks were excellent although in truth they had all the room they wanted to play in so it was an easy competitive debut for Winks also.

Marcus Edwards got a competitive debut and went on one run with a shot at the end of it that the keeper had to save. He looked better against Gillingham than he did in the pre-season friendlies.

I could go through all the players but in truth we were so dominant that nobody had a bad game and everyone looked good. Anton Walkes made his debut, Georges-Kevin N'Koudou made his debut and he looked quick.

It was a good game to get an introduction knowing you could relax, as much as any debut maker can, and enjoy the experience.



Debut's galore Debut's galore Reviewed by THBlogNews on 5:00 pm Rating: 5

Janssen second half

2:53 pm

JANSSEN vs GILLINGHAM


Tottenham totally dominated the first half with 17 shots on goal but only the one goal from Eriksen to show for it. Jansen was industrious and did everything but score, on to the second half.

Within a minute of the restart, Janssen was played through from inside the Spurs half to the left of the Gillingham box and he reversed the ball back for Winks who scuffed his shot.

After 51 minutes Kieran Trippier was played in and he cut back inside the defender who took his legs away. A clear penalty. The nearest man to the ball was Vincent Janssen and he rushed over after appealing to pick th ball up. Nobody was going to take this chance away from him and he sent the keeper the wrong way as he tucked it into the right-hand side of the goal as he sees it.

A fist pump and a beaming smile told its own story as the players all congratulated him.

After 57 minutes Janssen made another run inside the box but the ball to him was too hard from Onomah, however, the ref then pulled the game back for a Spurs free-kick for the shirt pull on Onomah.

A one-two from Onomah to him before Onomah's next pass is cut out and Janssen tackles back to regain the ball for Spurs. An attempted pass that didn't find it's target and a one-two with Carroll set him up with a shooting chance but he chose to try and find Janssen again before Janssen then laid on a goal fro Lamela.

He held the ball briefly and saw Lamela make his run on the left-hand side of the box, Janssen played the ball perfectly for Lamela to take it in his stride slotting the ball into the far right corner.

Twice in quick succession after that Janssen first played in Lamela and then tried to play in Winks but a deflection took it too close to the keeper.

His link up play with his back to goal was excellent all night and we will now see how much more relaxed he is when his next chance comes. The Dutchman has made seven appearances now and grabbed his first goal. His body language looked better after his goal so hopefully the goal from open play will come soon now with a little bit of the pressure taken off.

Has Onomah played a better ball when we broke from a Gillingham corner then Janssen may have had that chance as it was his shirt was pulled and we had a free-kick and he immediately made way for Marcus Edwards to come on after 72 minutes.



Janssen second half Janssen second half Reviewed by THBlogNews on 2:53 pm Rating: 5

Janssen first half

9:39 am


The hold up play of Vincent Janssen was excellent, We could play the ball up to him with his back to goal and he was holding onto it before laying off to a teammate. he laid on several shooting opportunities in the first half for the attacking trio behind him.

He looked frustrated in the first half, he was annoyed when Josh Onomah didn't slip him in when he played the ball to him on the edge of the box and turned nicely to get into space behind his marker, Onomah was more interested in a shot with three men around him.

That isn't a criticism of Onomah, just an example of how Janssen is working to get that first goal from open play and how the frustration and therefore tension builds up. Prior to that he had headed wide from six yards from an Onomah cross from the right. He tried to head the ball across goal into the far corner but instead headed it wide.

He had a shot saved by the substitute keeper for Gillingham on 35 minutes. His movement was good to find space in front of the defender and shoot on the turn with his right foot. It is the type of chance that you simply get on target and if it is your day it goes either side of the keeper, if it isn't it goes straight at him.

Three minutes later he was played in having pulled wide to the left at the edge of the area and his control took the ball diagonally towards goal giving the defender the opportunity to push him wider where he was also confronted with the goalkeeper. By the time he had gone round him he was virtually on the byline and from that acute angle he shot was cleared off the line.

A minute later Lamela played the ball into the box for Janssen to turn and shoot with his left foot but the ball rolled the wrong side of the post. Then on 41 minutes another good diagonal run but the ball was just too far out of his reach to wrap his foot around.

While frustrated he really was doing everything we want apart from the ball going into the net. It will come but his body language shows he desperately wants it, which doesn't make it any easier.

He looks a good purchase on this first half display.



Janssen first half Janssen first half Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:39 am Rating: 5

Full Match Video Spurs 5 Gillingham 0

7:56 am

SPURS 5 GILLINGHAM 0


A comprehensive Tottenham victory in the League Cup last night with goals from Christian Eriksen on 31 and 48 minutes, followed by a Vincent Janssen penalty on 51 minutes, Josh Onomah on 65 minutes and rounded off by Erik Lamela on  68 minutes.

New signing Georges-Kevin N'Koudou came on for Christian Eriksen after 60 minutes, Marcus Edwards came on for Vincent Janssen after 75 minutes and Anton Walkes came on for Ben Davies after 80 minutes.

Erik Lamela had 3 assists and scored another, the other goal being a penalty.

Starting XI
Vorm
Trippier Carter-Vickers Wimmer Davies
Carroll Winks
Lamela Eriksen Onomah
Janssen

Subs
Whiteman (GK), Wanyama, Walkes, Vertonghen, Son, N'Koudou, Edwards

To watch a full live replay of the game you can visit this link where you can choose highlights or a separate video of each half.




Full Match Video Spurs 5 Gillingham 0 Full Match Video Spurs 5 Gillingham 0 Reviewed by THBlogNews on 7:56 am Rating: 5

Which youngsters may figure against Gillingham - Possible XI

12:30 pm

SPURS vs GILLINGHAM


We have a League Cup tie against Gillingham, managed now by former Spurs left-back Justin Edinburgh at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. Edinburgh is doing a good job at the only Football League side in Kent, Gillingham and would one day like to manage his former club.

Edinburgh, who won the League Cup with us in 1999, insists after beating Watford his team are going to Tottenham to try and make Tottenham only the 10th top flight team Gillingham have beaten in their history.

“We’re not going there for the evening out. Whatever team we face it is going to be fantastic. We want to go and achieve something. It’s a big ask but we saw in the last round it can be achieved. 
“The night is about Gillingham. It’s about the players. They got us there and they are the ones who are going to try and cause another upset."

Almost 3,000 Gillingham fans are making their way to London to see their side take on a side we know will contain some youngsters, the question is how many?

To give us a clue we have to look at the Under-23 game that was played on Monday and see who was left out. We played a team of 18-year-old players, with one or two exceptions, so who didn't play from the Academy?

Conner Ogilvie - 20-year-old (21 next February) left-back
Cameron Carter-Peters - 18-year-old (19 in December) centre-back
Harry Winks - 20-year-old (21 next February) central midfield
Luke Amos - 19-year-old (20 next February) defensive midfield
Anthony Georgiou - 19-year-old (20 next February) left midfield
Cy Goddard - 19-year-old (20 next April) attacking midfield
Shayon Harrison - 19-year-old (20 next July) centre-forward

In addition to those there is 21-year-old Pau Lopez (22 in December) the third choice goalkeeper we signed over the summer from Pochettino's former club Espanyol.

Plus:
Josh Onomah 19 (20 in April) midfield
Georges-Kevin N'Koudou 21 (22 next February) winger

You would expect Michel Vorm to start with Pau Lopez on the bench. Kieran Trippier at right-back with Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kevin Wimmer at centre-back. Danny Rose is returning from injury, he could be given a run out or Connor Ogilvie could line up there.

In midfield Harry Winks is bound to start surely after his performances in Australia and he might be paired with a relatively old head in Tom Carroll.

Pochettino will want to give as many a taste as possible with some experience around them so he has to consider who might come on as a substitute. Luke Amos is versatile, Anthony Georgiou and Cy Goddarrd would form a very young quartet in midfield so a couple may have to come off the bench, especially with Josh Onomah another certain to play.

Georges-Kevin N'Koudou is a member of the first team squad but doesn't speak any English, which despite what some may think is an issue. Roberto Soldado had the same problem, but he did have Spanish speaking players and staff around him. N'Koudou only speaks French and although we have some French speakers it isn't ideal that it takes longer for the staff to get their message across and thta some of the players can't communicate with him. You would expect to see him playing though.

Up front Vincent Janssen may be given 45 minutes or an hour with Shayon Harrison likely to feature at some point.

THBN Spurs XI
Vorm
Trippier Carter-Vickers Wimmer Ogilviw
Carroll Winks
N'Koudou Onomah Georgiou
Janssen

Subs: Lopez, Rose, Amos, Wanyama Goddard, Eriksen, Harrison

In an ideal world he will want to bring on Amos, Goddard and Harrison



Which youngsters may figure against Gillingham - Possible XI Which youngsters may figure against Gillingham - Possible XI Reviewed by THBlogNews on 12:30 pm Rating: 5

Not an easy XI to predict

10:15 pm
It's an awkward one this North London Derby, we have Mousa Dembele, Alex Pritchard, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb all out which is stretching our resources in defensive midfield.

We have Manchester City at the weekend to consider and must also take into account who has played the last three games on the trot, asking them to play five may not be wise, to that end will Alderweirelf be rested with Fazio and Wimmer playing or will Pochettino play Vertonghen? While I have picked Fazio and Wimmer I can see Vertonghen starting with Alderweireld resting this time.

Will Lloris retain his place or does Vorm get a run? Trippier and Rose will surely start while in front of them Dier has to soldier on with Alli. Carroll could perhaps play further forward in a more creative role

This is surely the time to give Njie a starting berth after two substitute appearances, Andros Townsend is experienced enough and will be motivated for the game, Christian Eriksen has only had a brief substitute appearance so perhaps he should get a game under his belt.

Lloris
Trippier Fazio Wimmer Rose
Dier Alli
Townsend Carroll Eriksen
Njie




Not an easy XI to predict Not an easy XI to predict Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:15 pm Rating: 5

League Cup Spurs vs Arsenal

7:30 am
The Third Round of the League Cup is thrown up the North London Derby as the tie of the round this season. Arsenal will visit White Hart Lane in what is sure to be a full house on week commencing 21st September.

Both clubs generally field a second team in the competition so it should be an intriguing tie.

League Cup Spurs vs Arsenal




League Cup Spurs vs Arsenal League Cup Spurs vs Arsenal Reviewed by THBlogNews on 7:30 am Rating: 5

VIDEO Highlights Tottenham 4 Newcastle 0 Sheff U next

10:04 pm
What a difference movement makes. The first half against Newcastle United in the quarter-final of the League Cup saw Spurs start to play at home in the manner which Pochettino has been urging and we looked a different side.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that Eriksen could give us more and that perhaps the reason he was not creating was that we had no movement, no midfield runners. Well for the Swansea and Newcastle games we had just that, runners, movement. Eriksen looked a different player and Tottenham a different team.

The first half performance should be enough to show the squad that this style can be successful as Pochettino has insisted it can to them. Perhaps now those players who have not bought into this will now buy into it.

If you don't believe in something totally, then you don't give it 100% effort and if you don't give everything 100% you don't get maximum results. If you don't get maximum results you reinforce your initial view and you give a little less effort next time. It's a self fulfilling prophecy but it works the other way as well. When you totally believe, you give it maximum effort, get maximum results which reinforces your view this really works and so you find you find a way to give a bit more.

We do still have a problem we will have to address during the interval and that is giving the ball away in our half in midfield. We have put ourselves under pressure too many time but we are now also fizzing the ball around. Regular readers will know I have been complaining about us slowly passing to a team mate so they have to wait for the ball to arrive. That was not the case in the first half tonight.

Rose, Vertonghen, Stambouli errors gave Newcastle chances early in the second half after we had started quickly and Chadli had put us two up. The important point though was that we continued the movement which Newcastle couldn't handle and on top of that we saw much more of the high-energy high-pressing game that we have been expecting.

Everton, Swansea and now Newcastle, three encouraging performances that show the style is just starting to come together. I have, as many of us have, criticised Townsend in the past but today was the best game I've seen him play for a long while. He was running but more importantly he was looking for passes and trying to link with players, almost as if he has suddenly realised he doesn't have to try and do it all himself to get noticed.

Vorm did everything he had to do and I was pleased in the second half, when we were 4-0 up, that he called out to Fazio to tighten up when he had made a mistake and the keeper had to save a bouncing shot. As I suspected Vlad Chiriches looks far more at home as a right-back than a centre-back, take the aerial game away from him and he can concentrate on what he does best, which is play with the ball at his feet.

Rose was excellent going forward, although at times he didn't know what to do when he got there but there were a couple of occasions where he went to sleep and Newcastle attacked, he has to watch out for those lapses of concentration.

Another well taken Kane goal and a confidence booster for Soldado two minutes after coming on. A poachers goal, he started to follow up Eriksen's shot just before he struck it so was left in acres of space to pounce on the rebound.

We can look forward to our 14th semi-final and hope we draw Sheffield United. And we have.




VIDEO Highlights Tottenham 4 Newcastle 0 Sheff U next VIDEO Highlights Tottenham 4 Newcastle 0 Sheff U next Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:04 pm Rating: 5

League Cup Spurs v Notts Forest - Full Draw

10:06 pm
The League Cup 3rd Round draw has just taken place after Bradford City had beaten their local rivals Leeds United.

League Cup draw


Tottenham have been drawn at home against Nottingham Forest

League Cup 3rd Round Draw

Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers
Arsenal v Southampton
WBA v Hull City
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United
Leyton Orient v Sheffield United
Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth
Sunderland v Stoke City
Derby County v Reading
Liverpool v Middlesborough
MK Dons v Bradford City
Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday
Burton Albion v Brighton
Swansea City v Everton
Shrewsbury Town v Norwich City
Fulham v Doncaster Rovers
Tottenham Hotspur v Nottingham Forest





League Cup Spurs v Notts Forest - Full Draw League Cup Spurs v Notts Forest - Full Draw Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:06 pm Rating: 5

7 Years Happy

6:01 pm
Don't you just love upsets? Well done Birmingham!

I know this may be a bit premature, but it looks as though Arsenal could go yet another year without adding a trophy to their cabinet after just losing to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup Final.

I make it 7 years. Fair enough, they could win the Champions League, but let's face it, there's more chance of Tottenham Hotspur winning it. League? Forget it. F.A. Cup? Maybe, but I can't see it myself.

I suppose we'll have to wait another year for these young Arsenal players to mature, because we all know that one of these days, they will come good.

I am looking forward to welcoming them to The Lane in April. Thing is, when they lose to us yet again, what will be their excuse? I'll send a "7 Years Strong" T-Shirt to the best comment.

PS. RIP Dean Richards




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7 Years Happy 7 Years Happy Reviewed by Jaymes on 6:01 pm Rating: 5

The gameplan for Sunday

11:58 am
We are all familiar with Harry Redknapp’s prioritisation policy, but our manager knows the importance of Sunday’s Carling Cup final clash with Manchester United. He had a taste of Wembley glory last season with Portsmouth and more silverware, gained through upsetting the best team in Europe will be another notable feather in his managerial cap.

Victory would also be a boost to a team that has faced the ignominy of a relegation battle all season, securing European qualification at a time when our UEFA Cup fixtures are viewed as little more than a hindrance. It is hoped they would not be next season.

However, retention of the trophy and qualification for the first season of the Europa League somehow seems as far away as it did when we embarked on the campaign in the dark days of early season.

Manchester United have an aura of invincibility that makes their target of winning the five tournaments they entered this season eminently achievable. 10 straight Premier League wins and one goal conceded in their last 15 league matches shows the size of Spurs’ task. How will we defeat the Red Devils and repeat last year’s success?

That victory over Chelsea is the first place to look. Players intimidated by our opponents only need look at those who constructed that famous win – as the cliché goes, anything is possible in football and we must not lack self-belief.

Tactically Harry might well use our recent FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford as a blueprint. Although a 2-1 reverse was the final outcome, the manager was pleased with the way our five-man midfield stifled United’s threat, with the doubling up on Cristiano Ronaldo particularly successful.

Spurs played that match under-strength and with a clear counter-attacking mentality, and whilst we will not start the final in the same defensive frame of mind, the absence of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Fraizer Campbell might force Harry to again play Luka Modric behind Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Darren Bent appears to be on borrowed time at the club and can expect a place on the bench – having no striking cover on the sidelines might be dangerous.

Wilson Palacios is also unavailable, so Didier Zokora will perform ball-winning duties alongside Jermaine Jenas, who will need to support the front man with his bursts from midfield that have been lacking this season. Tom Huddlestone had a good impact as a substitute last year and we might need him again to come on to pick passes as we search for goals.

The back four will pick itself (fitness permitting) with the containment of Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov a priority. Our former striker was allowed too much space in the FA Cup tie and Ledley King will be keen to prevent him dropping deep and enjoying time on the ball.

Heurelho Gomes will be back between the sticks, which should not alarm Spurs fans as much as they might fear – Carlo Cudicini was as unsure on set pieces against Hull City as the Brazilian has been at any point this season. United are as dangerous from corners and free kicks as anyone and it does not need saying that they are threatening enough without being gifted soft goals.

The final should be a tight, low-scoring affair and we should hope Spurs’ frustrating tactics can produce a 1-0 win, the scoreline that United have benefited from so much recently. They have conceded more than once just three times in 26 league matches, meaning a clean sheet is crucial to our hopes of victory.


Written by Philip Oliver, a Tottenham Hotspur supporter and professional sports writer who blogs about Carling Cup gambling and football in general.
The gameplan for Sunday The gameplan for Sunday Reviewed by PoshSpur on 11:58 am Rating: 5
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