I won’t bury the lede. What happened five minutes into this game may have more meaning than anything in the hour and a half after. One can only speculate that Kane’s ankle will preclude him playing next week against the Saints—we can hope that a well-timed international break will allow his return, with Danny Rose alongside, in April. Anything worse and our Top Four hopes will fall into serious jeopardy. Wallace’s kick into Wanyama’s shin was cynical—can we say Millwall-esque?—but thankfully did not produce a serious nick.
As for the rest, the manager was firm in his choice of Eriksen to replace Kane over the sad sacked Janssen, and was rewarded with the opening goal (as was the Dutchman later on in an even more happy fashion) . Spurs were dominant throughout the first half but profligate for most of the first half hour as well. Dele should have earned a penalty tugged down by a shirt pull but Martin Atkinson decided not to go all Mike Dean. Unfortunately Kieran Trippier made several poor crosses, Son seemed adrift and painfully slow in reaction, fumbling the ball around, and even Harry Winks lost possession too easily a couple of times before settling in nicely, and the attacks kept fizzling. It may not matter if Poch can juggle the fixtures properly but we will face at least two extra midweek make-up games given the FA cup success and at some point depth will become an issue and the opposition won’t be Millwall.
Talent wins out, however, and the strikes from Eriksen and Son were terrific quality that separates a team in second place in the highest league from one battling for promotion at the third level. I loved Dele’s obvious frustration at Son’s initial failure to control the ball—why not? It was the third or fourth such bottle from the Korean in about ten minutes time– which turned to handshake ritual just seconds later with a booming left footed Korean strike to the net.
Second halves offer chance of redemption, and Trippier and Son wiped away any of the criticism of their first half play with an exquisite over-the-top combination for the third goal. After that the only suspense was who Millwall would attempt to injure and/or wind up with Dele being the most likely candidate. Wallace should have scored but shin-kickers don’t deserve good fortune, do they? Son got a bit selfish looking for his hat trick but who can blame him? The fourth was a thing of beauty—Tripper eschewing the cross for a direct pass to Eriksen who crossed perfectly to an unmarked Dele as Millwall was left to being spectators at their own funeral. Hurrahs for Vincent Janssen who was fierce in his successful cameo. And Son got the treble though at that stage one couldn’t help feel for the poor Lions’ keeper King.
Now who? It seems as if, given all the Wengerian drama, that it must be Arsenal in the semi-final. Then again assuming Conte gets the best of Jose tomorrow, the Chelsea games have increasingly been the real London rivalry these past few years with fireworks galore. Maybe that will be saved for a final which should have much more electricity than the soporific League Cup affair in Poch’s first season. Regardless this is the trophy hunt Spurs must try to capture.
The Lane said Adios, Farewell and Auf Wiedersehen today to the grand tradition of the FA Cup. It has been Spurs’ fortress this year—appropriately—marvelous fixtures against Arsenal and Man United remain. To Dare is to Have Done. Let’s hope a cup is the ultimate prize.