Spurs are on their way to Wembley!
Sorry, it never gets old.
Well, we didn’t do it the easy way (as per usual), but it’s sealed- Tottenham Hotspur have made it to the League Cup final.
However, fans may need to hold onto their excitement for a while, as we have many a game before our date with destiny.
We start with what’s arguably the most winnable fixture of the lot, with an away day at West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies ‘ form has improved since Tony Pulis took charge at the Hawthorns, with the Welshman’s side unbeaten under his rule.
Pulis boasts a great record of never being relegated in his managerial career, and West Brom already look a stronger side with his guidance and brutal training sessions.
They’re not the only team to look superior under a new coach, as our philosophy seems to finally be clicking under Mauricio Pochettino. Whilst we can argue that we never really should have lost the lead to a League 1 side, we dominated Sheffield United, with each player conforming to their role, never taking more than a couple or so touches, keeping the Blades running.
Tottenham come into this tie in good form, losing just twice in all competitions in their last eleven outings. We’re just three points off the top four, in the final of a cup and still going strongly in Europe- we’ve had worse seasons, eh?
A win would keep us in the hunt for a Champions League place, which is slightly beyond our pre-season objectives. Furthermore, we would be at least two points behind Arsenal if not less heading into next Saturday’s North London derby.
In recent years, our record against West Brom has been quite poor, winning just one of the last five meetings. In our last ten battles, there has been five draws. Back in September, we put in what I would consider our worst performance this season as the Midlands side snuck away with a 0-1 win.
I expect this affair to be far different affair; we’ve come leaps and bounds since that defeat, and Albion have changed managers. Both sides seem to be heading in the right direction in terms of their goals this season, but defeat for either could prove a big setback.
The only absentee from our squad is now down to just Nabil Bentaleb, who remains away at the African Cup of Nations.
In goal, Hugo Lloris is likely to return following his brief absence from our recent squads, much to the relief of Tottenham fans far and wide.
Despite being at fault for Sheffield United goals on Wednesday, Kyle Walker and Eric Dier may have done just enough to keep hold of their starting spots. Federico Fazio will be eager to start alongside Jan Vertonghen, but it could be quite a wait for the imposing Argentine. Danny Rose looks set to return at left back.
In midfield, it could be the same pivot as Ryan Mason and Benjamin Stambouli continue to impress. The pair looked solid at Bramall Lane, and it’s likely Poch will stick with them in the middle of the park.
Despite a decent game on Wednesday, I expect Erik Lamela to be replaced on the right by Andros Townsend. Lamela has only just returned from a month-long injury, but has already played twice in the last seven days. With the North London derby on the horizon, he could do with a rest.
The man of the moment Christian Eriksen looks set to move back to his favoured role in the hole, with Nacer Chadli available on the left after bereavement. This will likely disappoint Mousa Dembele, who performed admirably in midweek.
Up top, there really is no other sane option than Harry Kane. The one of our own made some good chances against Sheffield United, and was unlucky not to grab a goal as we reached Wembley.
These are the kinds of games we need to start consistently winning if we’re to continue challenging. Last year, we needed to come from 3 goals down to secure a point at the Hawthorns- could we make it easier this time please, Tottenham?
Predicted XI: Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason, Stambouli; Townsend, Eriksen, Chadli; Kane