We started like Lewis Hamilton, all speed, purpose and intensity, and ended like Jenson Button, begging questions about the substance beneath the superficial good looks.
Poch’s very surprising decision to start with a weakened side looked like genius early doors as our midfield was dominant everywhere and we took a deserved lead from Soldado’s fine volley. Who needs Kane?! We poured forward, as the rain poured down (sorry) but our flow was staunched by an against the run of play equaliser as our hapless Spaniard lost his rag and gave away a soft free kick from which the Italians scored.
We should’ve still gone in at half time ahead, Chadli was unable to keep an effort from close in down and under the bar but the second period was much more even as Fiorentina switched their formation so as to cope with a rampant Townsend and Walker and we never responded. Team A was summoned from the bench in the form of Lamela and Kane (and Mason at the death) but it was too little too late.
Despite scoring and having at least one other effort on goal Soldado did himself no favours. Kane it is who has dragged us to this point in the season and if this man, who cannot hold the ball up and looks like he has no idea that our current pressing, work till you drop, style begins with him, is what we’d be left with if Harry hadn’t burst to the fore, then heaven knows where we’d be. Not in a good place.
We’ve missed our best chance of staking a claim in the next round but we can score out there and once we’ve done that, the world will be our lobster. Extra time and penalties a thousand miles from home 3 days before a cup final? This is Spurs and you know it.
The aforementioned three musketeers as well as Dembèlè, Rose and Dier will be back in the side for our lunchtime date with the loveable Hamsters on Sunday. The opening day fixture seems an age ago, only 6 of those who started for us that day are liable to be in the prematch huddle at the weekend. Kaboul, Naughton, Lennon, Capoue, and Adebayor – their ships have sailed. (Lewis Holtby came on as sub). Our win there was a hiccup in West Ham’s excellent overall start to the season, they have though faltered a tad since Christmas with only one league win – a fortunate one over Hull – since then, they currently lie 8th though and they’ll be pleased with that. I suspect.
Valencia, Sakho, Downing, Kouyate and Song are key to their progress going forward and all played at West Brom at the weekend so I presume are all available. We shall see. They’ll be dangerous I’m sure despite their recent lack of form. They’ll have no lack of support, that’s for certain; we must ensure we don’t give them a toehold, ie something to defend.
The fact that we rested so many last night gives a good idea as to the coach’s priorities. Kane will be pulling at the leash; Mason and Bentaleb should be able to cope with Noble and Song. It should be a good game but we should have too much for them.
Jonathan Moss is the referee.