Once again, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves at a crossroads. It’s hard to see where he will end up in the north London side, having parted ways with Nuno Espirito Santo so early in the season and bringing in Antonio Conte, who has been flattered by the cheat thus far. But that’s not necessarily down to Conte’s fault, as the Italian has a track record of success wherever he has been – including titles that have sprouted in the capital, with the Premier League and FA Cup at Chelsea.
In fact, this Tottenham team may still be a victim of underachieving under Mauricio Pochettino. When you put things into perspective, 2015-2019 was the golden age at both White Hart Lane and the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Despite many memorable moments, they ended up winning the cup. It must go back to 2008, when Jonathan Woodgate’s goal against Tottenham won the League Cup against Chelsea, and for the last time the trophy cabinet saw a new release. And while Conte is set to end that drought, this is a squad in disarray and still looks far from contending for titles in any capacity.
An away encounter with Middlesbrough, a team that upended their tricky fortunes under Chris Wilder, would certainly not have been routine, but Conte should have had enough talent at his disposal to reach the quarter-finals. Burrow was riding the crest of the wave after knocking out Manchester United in the previous round on penalties, but based on the Italian team’s selection, he prepared with the goal of winning as soon as possible.
Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Heung-min Son all started at Riverside Stadium, but a fluid shift from Wilder’s well-orchestrated defensive unit sought to frustrate the Premier League side – clearly trying to grab everything they could in the break. With the full time approaching, the odds for those who bet online swung in favor of the hosts, who pushed more players forward and caused turmoil among the Spurs defense line, but missed a number of chances of late including two free headers which realistically, It must have been transferred.
Borough needed a penalty shootout to beat United in the last round, but an unlikely source provided an unforgettable winner in 107y the moment. 19-year-old Josh Coburn stepped forward – with a fierce shot across Hugo Lloris to send Riverside into chaos. It was a moment that she would live with the young man forever, regardless of his career path. And he is preparing for another big day for Elder and his co-workers, as they face Chelsea in the quarter-finals, once again with an advantage at home.
For the Spurs, you can see the energy being physically drained from Conte after the sabbatical whistle. Trying as he did – and we’ve seen his coaching ability appear sporadically throughout his tenure – he can’t get the best of the Spurs squad. Struggling with inconsistency, and having too many redundant players, a lot needs to be done over the next few transfers to ensure the long run ends without prizes – arguably something more important than finishing in the top four. But at the moment, the result is unacceptable.
“We have to think about our performance and the game we played. This kind of game, in these trophies away from home, you have to try to kill the game quickly.” Conti said. “Your opponent has to understand that tonight is going to be tough, instead we can do a lot better and in the end Middlesbrough deserved to go to the next round.”
Sports journalist, content writer and football lover.
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