So the FA Cup is an irrelevance, a tiresome interlude between the real business of busting a gut to not win anything in the League. Yeah right. Nobody at White Hart Lane yesterday recognises that description of a competition still dear to the heart of football fans. Full-bloodied, no respect for status, both teams going out to win it and a distinct edge in the air. Proper cup football. Give it a sponsor, call the 6th round a different name, play it on any day of the week TV fancies – the fans make it proper cup football every time.
On the field, Spurs rose to the challenge with style and class from the outset. They stamped their authority on the game, quickly consigning any thought of giantkilling to yesterday’s back pages, today’s chip paper. Get the ball, move it around, get hold of midfield, match every tackle. Hard work and a sustained plan was the foundation, the goals came later.
In the stands, Spurs lifted the spirits in response to the Millwall roar. The best atmosphere outside an AFC or CFC derby for many years. What a glorious din it was. Old school to and fro. Que sera, we going to Wembley. Que sera, Millwall are going to Shrewsbury. Spurs applaud. Janssen scores his first from open play. “He scores when he wants, Vincent Janssen…” Just like the old days but it’s future too. We can do this in the new ground, if we want to. Give us room to get on with it, give us an end, we’ll make some noise. And the rubbish silenced in the best possible way – a thumping out of sight win via a hat-trick from the bloke on the receiving end.
Spurs got on top at the start as is our way these days at home. We passed our way through and round Millwall, set up a few chances but the final ball was lacking, Son making the gravest error when he ignored the queue at the far post and shot straight at the keeper.
In Kane’s absence, Son not Janssen is Pochettino’s plan B. Let’s wait for the results of Kane’s scan before we panic. There’s ample time to panic after that. My fear is that he has a long-term weakness on that ankle. Robust but otherwise legitimate tackles have done the damage, and we give that ankle a lot of wear and tear.
Eriksen on to sustain our midfield supremacy. I would have played him from the start as part of our strongest possible side. Without doing anything noticeably different, he has imperceptibly developed his game over the past few months to become the dominant midfield influence in every match he plays. With so much movement ahead of and around him, he turned the game decisively in our favour.
Just as we started to get a bit edgy, well on top but no goals, Millwall in our box a couple of times, Eriksen swivelled on a bouncing ball in the box to find the far corner. Same corner a few minutes later. Son miscontrolled the ball again, leaving it behind and taking the momentum out of the attack. This time he turned his mistake into a virtue. Left foot from the right, across the keeper, same corner. Two moments of high class finishing stamped our authority on the game once and for all.
Millwall had nothing in reply. They tried to play football and were keen to shift it forward but even two goals to the good, Spurs weren’t about to let them back in the game. Less about Millwall’s deficiencies, much more about our clinical approach to finishing them off, further evidence of the winning mentality that has become part of our approach since Gent.
These goals were class but not classy enough for Son. Long ball, running full pelt into the box, drops over his shoulder and volleys it home. I trust BT showed it on a loop instead of their post-match analysis.
Good fun to be had. Dele at the far post on the end of a fine cross, made by Winks. On the ball, controls, it, changes direction, spreads an inch perfect 30 yard ball to the full-back. He plays as if he was born to it, natural, eager, fearless, oblivious to the bedlam around him and in the stands. He’s a real craftsman and a tremendous prospect.
Janssen has been humiliated by his manager over the past months, either staying on the bench or not making the bench at all. Pochettino knows how to get his message over. But he’s on and he scores when he wants. A glimpse of what might be, the ball only a foot or so in front of the defender yet instantly and accurately turned low into the corner. Let’s gloss over the previous shot that just missed the corner flag and the one after, a point blank header straight at the keeper.
The keeper threw it into the net for Son’s hat-trick. It was all there – through his legs, the irresistible reflex to desperately drag it out of the net even when you know it’s already over the line. The indignity compounded by three replays and huge cheers. Is this what the big screen is for?
Fine performances all round. Davies again prominent going forward, Trippier did well too. Winks excellent, polished and mature. The drive from the back three is the key though, yesterday and for the rest of the season. Vertonghen is in the middle of a purple patch, reaching heights that seemed beyond him a couple of years ago. Pushing up into the space the midfielders leave behind is crucial to our attacking play.
Dier was the only doubt, I guess there has to be something. The ease with which he was left standing on several occasions by League 1 forwards was a little bit of a worry, something to work on in the weeks to come.
Just like the old days at the Millwall end too. Abuse of Son, which I heard but couldn’t make out at the time. Anti-Semitic abuse too, or so I read today. Singling a Korean out for abuse is a new one on me. Abuse for abuse sake is low.
Dan Kilpatrick from Spurs ESPN said on twitter last night that this was the biggest police presence at an English football match in a decade. These days the police have sophisticated tactics to keep an eye on potential troublemakers. Which is why I don’t understand the reason their fans weren’t kept in the ground after the match to clear the streets. We nipped up Bromley Road, a cut-through between the High Road and the Park Lane, only to find it had been blocked off first at the High Road end then, as we turned back, behind us too, so we were stuck in the road for ten minutes, no info, then were let out into the middle of the Millwall for the walk back to Seven Sisters. I didn’t see any trouble and it felt safe. They weren’t looking for any bother, indeed the most noise came from a football kicked all the way along the route, but how can that be safe crowd control?
Anyway, nothing gets in the way of a fine win, fabulous performance, wonderful football. Semi-final? Bring them all on.
19 thoughts on “Semi-final? Bring Them All On As Son Leads the Way”
Lover-ly report. Couple of observations. Is the FAC fan demographic different than a PL game? Even over here, early in the LA morning — there’s a fog upon LA and my friends have lost their way — via TV, it sounded like the most raucous noise we’ve heard in awhile, as you noted, Alan. We were cheering on Janssen over here, too, and a couple of us saw a tear in his eye due to his teammate love-fest and fan singing, He scores when he wants. Sonny when he has too much time to think, often flubs his lines. When he just reacts, he’s got dyno-mite in both feet! All four of our forward players scored after Harry went off, it is a team game. COYS!
The fan profile is different because the tickets are cheaper and some ST holders don’t take their seats. It’s a big match anyway but the numbers of people there who don’t go to every match does make a difference, I reckon. Shouldn’t do – it would have been noisy anyway – but it does. That said, the noise was coming from all four sides of the ground – fabulous.
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I thought as much, Alan, appreciate it the explanation and great vibe. Now about how our team will cope in Harry’s absence…if we all pull together as a team, as Floyd sang.
Thanks for the write-up, Al.
An old-fashioned cup tie. Before the game I was nervous of an upset but as soon as the game started there was only one possible result.
We played very, very well. Admittedly poor against League One opposition but a good performance nonethelss. Wykham Wanderers were tougher opposition.
Like you, Al I fear Harry Kane could have a long term problem with that ankle. Eriksen/Son are the best alternative option. Janssen’s free header at the goalkeeper is probably more typical of his ability. And Son himself can be great or really frustrating (ask Dele Alli!) In other words, there is a serious drop in quality without Kane.
Still, 2nd and in the semis. I’ll take that.
Enjoyed your thoughts. But did you really mean “admittedly poor against League One opposition”, as I felt that we were anything other than poor. Was it a typo for “against poor League One opposition”?
If so, I’d agree 128.95 per cent!!
Yes, a silly typo. Thank you for pointing this out.
Millwall were poor League One opponents. Thought we were very good, taking the game seriously and playing like professionals.
We’ve beaten Chelsea once this season. We can do it again. But we need our first XI out there on the pitch.
Russ, I’m reasonably sure that I can drink to that. Wouldn’t it be great to flatten the SkySports and tabloids’ pin ups twice in the season?
But let’s just pray that our slightly worrying injury list soon shrinks and certainly doesn’t get any longer in the next few weeks!
Dare to Do!
Dare to do indeed!
Have you gents seen the NBCSN produced doc, To Dare is to Do?
You’re welcome. Really enjoyed it – after that sick feeling went away after the third goal. Didn’t mention it in the blog but this one a big game for the Fishers – family and friends full of Millwall so extra spice for us.
Inconsistency will always be an element of Son’s game, he’s that type of player. Before he scored, I moaned at yet another miscontrolled pass, then added that he was bound to score now…and lo, it came to pass..
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Sonny…when he has time to time, he often flubs his lines. When he just reacts on the ball, he has superb instincts, I mean, he’s probably scored the best Spurs goals this season, and yes, we’ll continue to get both bad and good Sonny. But love his spirit and energy, and who doesn’t like Sonny?!
Crikey, “time to think” –
Lovely write up to describe a very unSpurs-like, stress free afternoon! Wycombe was apparently the nail biter, at least until the Chelsea game in the semi finals. I would love to share your confidence Alan , about bringing them all on, but I confess I was hoping for City in the semis on the basis that a defeat to them would be marginally less painful.
Two points on Sundays game – I’m glad you mentioned Ben Davies , he’s been getting progressively better each week and I feel the only reason he’s getting criticised is because he’s not Danny Rose, but really, who is? When Davies signed I thought there was little between them, not foreseeing the remarkable progress of Rose on the horizon. Getting pitch time is something all players need, it must be hugely difficult being a fringe player in a team that pretty much picks itself, the same is true of the excellent Trippier too.
The other point is not just Janssen’ s goal, something that delighted me – the poor guy’s confidence must be shot to pieces – but the reaction to the goal from team mates and fans alike. I really love this togetherness, and I know it’s something you cite regularly.
So onwards, and another comfortable Sunday at home to Southampton would be most welcome, as would a clean bill of health for Harry Kane!
Cheers , DB.
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Davies has been given too much criticism in my view. He has played like a man short of match practice – which is exactly what he is. As you say, he’s not Rose but then Rose is the best left back in the league. The back three gives him freedom to get forward and he is making the most of it. Pleased for Janssen.
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50 years ago I went to see us play Millwall in the 3rd round of the FA Cup (I was 15).
Having escaped that old Den area safely, after Spurs drew 0-0, I went to watch
the replay on a school day the following Wednesday 7.30 kick-off. But I got locked out and walked
sadly back up the High Road to Mansion House (no Seven Sisters station then) as I heard
the roars of the crowd as the teams took to the pitch. We won 1-0.
Omen 1) That was the last time we played Millwall in the Cup ..and we went on to win it.
I never missed another cup game that great season, where we also finished 3rd in the League, including:
Omen 2) the quarter final when we won – yes – 6-0 against Birmingham.
A trip to Hillsborough to see us win 2-1 against Forest, and then the final itself ..my first FA Cup Final,
standing at the Tottenham end for £1 ..as we beat Chelsea 2-1.
OK …dubious Omen 3) playing Chelsea at Wembley 50 year on, and Omen 4) the year ending in 7. Think 1967, 1987 (ok we lost that one), and now 2017.
Anyway …we’ve got 5 weeks to think about it the game (not the omens)…so let’s not (er ..think about it).
That game will come up soon enough. Let’s concentrate on nothing but the PL and, who knows,
when the game DOES come around ..we might be at full strength and beat them again.
How I’d love that. It would exceed by a mile our augmenting a top four position!
Long walk to Manor House, longer if you were locked out! It’s a few weeks away – keep that back three together, that’s the key.
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Yes, that back 3, but do we play Vorm or Lloris?
While I have been fortunate to see in person a number of exciting matches/games of various sport over the years,NFL,NHL,college basketball etc, the noise and atmosphere of the Lane on Sunday was beyond anything I have experienced. Honestly in large part do to the Millwall support , if you can see past their anti-semitic, anti-Korean, basically anti-everyone bent , which was actually quite impressive and drove our volume up as well. As you noted all four sides of the ground were blasting out the classic anthems of Spurs-dom, brilliant. I was blessed to be there and as you noted I was able to purchase a ST seat in the west upper with my bronze membership, fly over and catch the last FA cup game at the Lane, and miss a 20inch snowstorm in upstate NY as well, wins all around. If we could somehow pinch the cup I believe it could be a major springboard for us, COYS!
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Last FAC game at WHL? Even Poch said in his presser when asked about his reaction to playing the last Cup game at WHL, he quipped “maybe” – Alan, and there was something in the TT meeting: “DL insisted all planning is towards playing fixtures at Wembley next season but there is a need to plan for all eventualities should any major issues arise, which would mean another year at White Hart Lane before moving to Wembley for the 2018/19 season.” So is there an possibility?