Spurs lose 1-1
I don't particularly want to tag the next week or so as season defining pretty much because nothing truly can be defined in Mauricio Pochettino's fledgling tenure until the summer and beyond. But in terms of churning out the type of success that supporters crave, especially unexpected success from what is meant to be a transitional season, I guess this week ahead is defining.
The first leg of this tie was ultimately one of frustration and disappointment. The tempo and urgency in the opening half hour from Tottenham was brilliant. Football with pace and movement. Andros Townsend buzzing with energy and Nabil Bentaleb supremely at ease marshalling the midfield. Alas, our end product didn't match up to our possession. Roberto Soldado scored very early with a neat volley and that probably teased us into thinking we'd win comfortably. That would have been grand. To kill the game off in the first half and prepare with rotation come next week with our Wembley date in mind.
Sadly Fiorentina equalised with a combination birthed from an unnecessary foul, a free-kick that was drilled, saved then bounced off a backside and nutmegged in.
We failed to take advantage of the visitors disorganisation. They reacted by shifting formation and going from a back three to a back four, a tactical switch that pretty much killed our second half. That and the general dip of momentum from the players that appeared to lack that first half edge to their mentality.
We now have to go to Italy with the intention to attack and win the game but how we do so with the Chelsea cup final days later (whilst they rest up for a week) is going to be tricky. Do we play a strong team on the Thursday and then play the same team on the Sunday in an attempt to generate that all important momentum? I don't even want to consider a midweek extra-time scenario.
West Ham United
This Sunday, squeezed into all the action, a derby match. The Euro hangover needs to be avoided. The same ilk of pulsating pomp is going to be needed as seen against Arsenal and Chelsea. The opposition might not be of the same quality but that doesn't mean we shouldn't treat them the same way; play with the aim to make a statement and defend our territory.
With Harry Kane not starting in the Europa League we need him to lead the way in this clash. We look a far more balanced side, retaining the ball with endeavour, when he plays along with Ryan Mason teaming up with Bentaleb in the middle. I guess our selection here will define one thing for certain: League games are prioritised above European ones.
We've played 40+ games already this season. Fitness isn't an issue. The travel to Italy before hand might still stretch one or two players to the limit.
A cup final is a one-of occasion and if you're lacking the desire and energy for it - regardless of prior games - then you're going lose the game in your head before losing it with your feet.