6pm on a Sunday? That’s no time for an FA Cup semi-final. Wembley? That’s no place for an FA Cup semi final. Three days before an important Moneybags League game? That’s no… etc etc. Filthy lucre has certainly played its part in the staging of Sunday’s game; it’s still a cup semi final though and retains its own magic in spite of the forces of corporate greed and need.
Since beating the gooners in the first ever Wembley semi in 1991 our record has been pretty appalling at this stage of the competition. A string of below par performances mean that we’ve not appeared in an FA Cup final, a competition that has been ‘ours’ for so much of our history, for over twenty years. Beating Chelsea will put that right. Twice we’ve played them at Wembley and twice we’ve won. To make it three though we’re going to have to up our game tactically, physically and technically from the weekend. By the end of the Norwich game we looked tired, stretched and very very exposed.
‘Belief’, ‘swagger’, ‘mojo’ and ‘confidence’ are all words that are going to feature heavily in every Spurs biased preview of this game, normally with a combination of the words, ‘lack of’, ‘fragile’ and ‘missing’ in close attendance. We were in a similar state to that which we are now before the match at Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago and by going back to basics, we found a way out of it. The ninety minutes were pretty even; we though finished up having the better chances and feeling slightly aggrieved not to have won. If Harry thinks of doing anything other than repeating the tactics used in that game then the chances are he’s doing the wrong thing. It wasn’t the most exciting display of the season but we’re in need of results, not entertainment.
We’ve been ok for injuries in the last few weeks but I guess both Parker and Kaboul must be in danger of missing out. Assuming Parker plays no matter what his state, Sandro or Livermore is a toss-up in the middle alongside him; the latter is currently more limited but appears more disciplined which Redknapp will like. Despite his creaking joints (and speed and decisiveness) King if fit will probably play. He has a history of doing well against Drogba if nothing else. Up front Adebayor should plough a lone furrow with support from Bale and VdV. Lennon and Defoe are amongst our more dangerous players but the emphasis initially at least needs to be on strength and compactness. They will do well when used as subs. That’s my view anyway.
Martin Atkinson is down to referee; he also did the 0-0 at Chelsea in March.
Despite their progress in the Champions League Chelsea aren’t the force they were, but then neither are we. There were enough positive signs in our last encounter to give encouragement and we should go into the game feeling positive. So much of it is all about the system. We know that in Bale, VdV, Adebayor and Modric we have the players to do well, we need a solidity that wasn’t there last Monday though if we’re to get the best out of them.
Redknapp has often bemoaned the lack of characters and leaders at the club. Ledley’s players’ meeting will have given an idea of who amongst them is capable of proving him wrong. We’ll need those who stood up, prepared to be counted, to do the same on Sunday evening and if they do, Chas & Dave might find that it’s time to dust down the old Joanna and belt out another classic. COYS.
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