“That Harry Kane team” has now scored 7 goals, conceding none, in 150 hours of football. All without our talisman. Today in Wales Spurs put in an immaculate performance—all of the starting XI playing superbly with even the goalkeeper, Michel Vorm, rising to the occasion against his former club with a terrific save to open the second half and quench any thought of a Swansea comeback.
Poch is right, as he is about almost every subject, when he says that luck is a major determinant of these domestic cups. And that a year or two from now—whether Spurs win this particular competition will mean almost nothing. But it is a step in the process of developing a winning mentality, and Spurs are now two games at their new home away from claiming a trophy. Whether or not those games place Man United or Chelsea against us—or instead Leicester or Wigan—matters less than that this squad seems to want the result. As does their manager from his selection today.
The back four was our best—and all played admirably. Davinson Sanchez’ habit of getting beat by an equally big center forward continued when Abraham bested him early on and produced one of the few chances for the Swans, but his aerial skills continue to shine and he was assured for the rest of the game. Vertonghen, Davies and Trippier were near impeccable.
The midfield was a sight to see—Eric Dier did give the ball away a few times which a more capable opposition could have exploited for a goal scoring opportunity but in the main he excelled. His curving strike headed for the top left corner was one of his best in his time at Spurs and took a wonderful save to deny him the goal. Moussa Sissoko has found his spot, I think—a holding midfielder with the ability to create havoc, win the ball back, provide a physical presence and even thrust forward with some danger on occasion. It was one of his best games in a Spurs shirt. And Christian Eriksen was, of course, the MOTM with two terrific goals, nearly a third, also, like his opener, from his left foot, and a sublime management exercise in the deep Number Ten role. If Kevin DeBruyne is a 10 in that role for City, surely Eriksen rates about a 9.5 doing pretty much the exact same thing.
Up front, Son was bound to get less space than he is normally afforded down the left wing playing the Number Nine role—but thanks to the abomination that is VAR he was denied a clear goal on a play where only an English referee at the ground or in the studio could conclude he was offside. Lucas was active and just missed a couple of good chances, lacking that final deft touch, well-timed cross, or well-struck shot. But he is improving and I look for him to make a big contribution next season. And Erik Lamela was excellent throughout, doing what he does—winning the ball, occupying space, laying the ball off, and, shock of all shocks and certainly to Nordfeldt, using his right foot for a well-deserved goal. Of course we are better off with Kane, but the way that the three upfront (and substitute Dele for Lucas in games to come) play with Eriksen directing traffic is pretty impressive.
Certainly an Ayew-less Swansea side much more focused on staying up contributed today, but Spurs were simply never going to let them in the game in any event. If we draw a Wigan or even a Leicester in the semis I hope we can be that ruthless again. And if it’s one of the big boys, well that’s fine with me. Those Newport and Rochdale fixtures had their place—almost to season this squad while the more vital Champions League and regular league games were taking place. It feels like our time to hoist a trophy—the perfect ending of a season at Wembley the club should be quite happy about. Life isn’t always so linear, but in Spurs’ case it does seem as if the improvement is coming steadily—and next year, in the new ground, could come a serious title challenge or Europe run— or both.
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