Why Spurs must win the FA Cup this season to be taken seriously
The FA Cup semi-final draw is over, and the final 4 teams left in the competition following the quarter-final ties this week know their respective fates. In the pick of the clashes at Wembley, Spurs will take on Manchester United. The other semi-final sees last season’s finalists Chelsea pitted against Southampton.
Spurs have been one of the best teams in England in the last 3 seasons. They had the most number of Premier League points in the calendar year 2017, and finished 2nd the last campaign. This year too, they are well on their way for at least a top 4 finish, and automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages.
However, they have nothing in terms of silverware to show for their troubles. They have often been the brunt of cruel jokes, that while other big teams were winning trophies, all Mauricio Pochettino’s side could do was “put pressure”. They have buckled when it has mattered most, and been left empty-handed again and again.
Two years, they were the closest challengers to Leicester City for the title, and could have taken it right to the end. Instead, they threw away a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge and Claudio Ranieri’s men were crowned champions. Last season, they once again had the chance to really push Chelsea down to the wire, with the Blues looking in really shaky form. They lost 1-0 away to West Ham out of the blue, and lost their grip on the title.
They had a real chance of making it through to the Champions League quarter-finals this year, after earning an incredible comeback 2-2 against Juventus in the first leg in Italy. This was after they had finished top of their group which included Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, going unbeaten in the 4 matches against these sides. In the second leg at Wembley, they took the lead in the first half, but then lost their concentration for a brief five-minute period in the second. Juve scored twice, and then held on to qualify. It was a typical “Spurs moment”, seeing the Lilywhites choke when it mattered most.
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A trend they must break this season
The FA Cup is no longer considered to be one of the most important trophies in English football. It still though, is a prestigious piece of silverware that every one of the remaining 4 teams will desperately want to win.
Pochettino has done some amazing work at Tottenham, integrating youngsters into the squad, making some really smart signings, adopting an open, attacking style of football and also making them a regular among Europe’s elite. He is still though, waiting for his first trophy in North London. Their runners-up finish in the 2016 League Cup, along with their second-placed finish in the league last year, remains their best showing. Last season, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they were beaten by Chelsea, in a match which most believe they should have won, based on possession and chances.
This year, they have no excuses. They have already once beaten Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League, and will want a similar performance on the 21st of April. It remains to be seen if Harry Kane, who injured his ankle against Bournemouth last weekend, will be back before then. The England striker’s presence could be vital in this game.
Either way, with a top 4 finish in the league looking comfortable (Spurs are 5 points ahead of 5th-placed Chelsea), it would make sense for Pochettino’s men to really push towards winning the FA Cup. Their recent numbers might look really pretty in terms of points won, but unless they have something material to show for it, they will count for absolutely nothing.
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