Portsmouth. Arsenal. Chelsea. Manchester United. Don't know about you, but I'm salivating. Exciting times.
For the most part of the season we've had key players out injured. We've been written off but we've always pulled our way back into it, even with the depletions. There's definitely a new-founded spirit at WHL. A backbone. But there's some unfinished business that plays on my mind, a reminder that we're not quite there yet. The tonkings we received from three of the above mentioned teams at the start of the season. Three games in which we allowed the occasion to overwhelm us. Including a textbook cameo from Howard Webb to help compound things further. We displayed some of that olde lack of mental strength and composure and self-belief. Apologetic in reaction. But other than the Sunderland defeat last week and the non-events at Liverpool and Wolves (twice)- we've been fairly consistent all season long, since that early season hiccup(s). But we've suffered shock results where we dominated but failed to score, and lost.
Frustratingly, we let ourselves down when expectancy is high. But this is no longer the disease it once was. Beating Arsenal and Chelsea to win the Carling Cup. Beating Chelsea at home twice in recent years. We don't always fail to turn up. We have the capabilities to do so.
But redemption is still required because the players were/are better than the results we suffered against the three aforementioned 'big 3' sides (and the other defeats too). But before the epic week and a half ahead, we have the small matter of the FA Cup semi-final against Pompey. And placing aside the battle for fourth, beating them and reaching the final is just as important as the on-going fight in the Prem.
93, 95, 99 and 2001 need to be forever vanquished. That and the fact that once upon a time we were synonymous with this grand competition. And it's just been way way too long since we tasted some of that FA Cup final magic. I spoke about how back in 1991, as the underdogs, we upset the scum to go on and win the competition in a season where we on the brink of financial ruin. I dislike the parallels being made with Portsmouth mainly because it serves as a reminder that ANYTHING is possible on the day.
Cup games, we all know, inspires the unexpected. And considering this is quite possibly the last time Pompey will play at Wembley and the last time for a long time that the chance of silverware is within their grasp, I doubt they're going to choke. They have nothing to lose, having just lost their Premier League status, relegated on Saturday afternoon.
Pound for pound, it would take an exceptionally average performance from us to allow them to bully and beat us. And I'll be shocked and shattered if we fail to win. Okay, so I just explained that upsets happen - but that's not to say I'm without confidence. We need to be professional and match their effort and our quality will win through. If we choke, then facepalm and don't dare look up. But these games don't always match-up as you expect them to when discussing it on paper.
I guess part of me is attempting to mentally prepare myself for the potential consequence of defeat so that it's easier to live with if it happens. Part of the DNA I guess. Nobody want's to lose a semi-final.
80's swagger required
There were a couple of 'moments' in our last encounter with them at the Lane where they could have / should have scored. We outclassed them in the end, but I'm confident that Harry has pointed that complacency is unacceptable on the day and that control and patience will be key. Control the game, carve out chances, and be patient and the goals will flow. That's the ideal scenario.
So yes, I'm fairly confident. Just not taking it for granted. Considering the plight of Avram Grant's side, it would be so FA Cup if they managed to get to Wembley a second time.
They have injury and selection issues. So do we. King, Dawson, Huddlestone and Corluka all doubts. Lennon might be on the bench (and might even play - although Harry might think we can win without him and saved him for the NLD).
So going back to what I said earlier in this article, the reason it's so important is simply this:
People remember the games and the lifting of silverware because of the stage it's played on. Nobody will ever forget Villa weaving and twisting his way in the penalty area back in '81. Players, our players, have the opportunity to write history and become part of Tottenham folklore. You'll always talk about Cup finals and you'll talk about them even more if you see your side win one because it goes down into the history books forever. Finishing 4th won't.
That really should be inspiration enough.