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When I heard that Sheffield United were stuck in traffic on the North Circular (delaying the kick-off by fifteen minutes) I suggested they changed into their kits on the coach and then on their arrival into Tottenham park up in front of their goal. It's the type of ill-fated confidence that will always comes back to mock me. Although I never deluded myself into thinking we'd win comfortably, I did expect a far more pronounced performance than the faint whisper we got.

At the final whistle, even with a 1-0 lead and a clean sheet, I feel like we've done a Tottenham. Our unofficial motto being 'The hard way is the Spurs way, is the only way'. Not much daring, too much dithering.

Nigel Clough's team deserve some plaudits for their stubborn work ethic. They might be two divisions below us but in cup football they have a solid mentality, one that retains a level of competitiveness regardless of the perceived quality of the opposing team. However, that was United subjecting us to a game-plan to frustrate and it worked almost perfectly mainly because we failed to react and mix it up. We let them dictate the tempo.

There was a lack of width, with Danny Rose benched and Ben Davies not having a great game defensively and not offering the same outlet that Rose can going forward. We missed Nacer Chadli (on compassionate leave). Our final third creativity was poor. The one dimension we had forever congested through the centre of the field. Christian Eriksen was off-key and nobody else was able to step up.

With Benji Stambouli and the returning Ryan Mason in the middle, there wasn't enough craft to give us extra options. Mason, usually decent with bringing the ball forward, looks like he'll need a few games to regain the pace required. Sheffield United simply contained us and countered. They never truly threatened but it illustrated the lack of balance with our attempts in comparison. We just couldn't break them down from open play.

The penalty was a God send. Andros Townsend smacking it home for a slender lead but one that could prove to be vital. The second leg can only go to penalties if the hosts win 1-0 after extra-time. So with them having to play more openly and attack us - this might be the perfect set-up for us to counter and punish them with what would be a killer away goal.

As for captain Emmanuel Adebayor? He was lucky to get away with a yellow card although it was more stupid than it was malicious. He struggled to impose himself. We accommodated his inclusion by once more playing Harry Kane deeper. At some point Kane and also Eriksen will need to be rested to avoid burn-out. The likes of Adebayor and Roberto Soldado need the game time. Until personnel changes are made then the squad remains as it is which means we have to be adaptable.

Mauricio Pochettino showed faith in his players with his selection but they'll now have to seek redemption next week and perform with far more desire.

 

metro.co.uk/author/spooky23