Spursing it

Tottenham are on their way to Wembley. It was never in doubt. Not the 'getting to Wembley' bit but rather the manner in which we almost managed to Spurs it up. Here was a plucky and determined Sheffield United side that for the most part were contained by our controlled football. Not that our performance was overly convincing. That's was the ominous clue that I somehow managed to ignore due to the illusion of safety the 2-0 (across both legs) scoreline suggested before our mini-capitulation.

For all the possession and tidy football there was no cutting edge and only the brilliance of Christian Eriksen with a beautiful top corner free-kick kept us ahead until the most unlikely of appearances from an 18 year kid, Che Evans, who scored a brace in the space of minutes to turn the game on its head.

So what went right for us, then momentarily wrong then right again?

With our 1-0 lead from the first game I half expected Sheffield United to pile on pressure from the off to chase down the game which would play into our counter-attacking ambitions. That never played out. We had one scare when Michel Vorm lost the ball and Kyle Walker recovered on the goal-line but for the most part there wasn't that much bite from the hosts. The problem was; we were just as toothless.

Loved Benjo Stambouli's work ethic. Mousa Dembele, pushed up with Eriksen and Harry Kane, was more effective than his lost in the wilderness running when played in deeper roles. Mousa can be so much more instrumental if he steps up to a more bullish level (much like the rest of the team).

This being Spurs, the moment Mousa was substituted (along with Erik Lamela who worked hard without glamour and the occasional heavy touch) we lost shape and got hit twice by Evans. Although that had more to do with patchy defending.

To use a boxing analogy, we jabbed without delivering a knock-out blow and United seemed to throw a couple of hopeful punches and land them on our chin. Is it concerning? Yes. It's a repeat of this ongoing saga we find ourselves in, eternally struggling to break teams down and in this case -- shock and awe them into submission. We're a bit weak with our application. Got the moves, don't dance enough.

But this is of course THFC and naturally, in an almost inherently sadistic manner, the only genuine punishment dished out is to the supporters. Conceding the two unlikely goals was always going to happen. If anything just to tease away the belief of being within touching distance of Wembley before handing it back making sure that even glory is one of sufferable ilk.

Eriksen's goal - from open play ! - was as exquisite as his free-kick. Passed rather than fired towards the net, assisted perfectly with a defence splitting slice from Kane. It was naturally scored in the 87th minute and it consolidated that having faith in Spurs isn't an experience that will ever be comfortable simply because we wouldn't be comfortable with anything else.

Onwards.

 

metro.co.uk/author/spooky23