New year – New low!

It is that time of the year when the oldest cup competition in world football returns and so does the long standing debate regarding the magical aura of it. We – the current holders of the magical FA Cup – did the honours of settling that argument, at least for a year, at our expense! Yeah, that’s so generous of us.

For the past few seasons when the likes of the PL and UCL titles started to slide away, this lovely looking trophy has been, for us, ‘a friend indeed’. Not this time, though. Two goals from their full-back, who was trying to ‘get a dog from his wife’ and two goals from penalties (Yeah, 4 in the last 3 matches) left us high and dry, in our defence of the FA Cup.

This, apparently, innocent looking 3rd round tie was sandwiched between an engrossing festive season and the semi final of the League Cup against Chelsea. Quite obviously, there was enough temptation to rotate the starting XI and I’ve got absolutely no issues with that. It’s the selection of our subs that appeared really arrogant. If things went wrong, which they might in any game of football, our plan was to send the likes of Nketiah and Akpom to help us get out of the mess. You need to be in a fool’s paradise to think of Eddie Nketiah doing an ‘Eddie’ time and again, to get us over the line. This baffling, decision, of not naming any offensive first teamers in the bench, did cost us an arm and a leg!

After watching it from the stands (Thank you, Mr. Dean) our manager said, “I am very disappointed by our performance because Nottingham Forest were the better team out there, the most dangerous and won many challenges.” This effectively stands as ‘We were outmuscled, outpaced and outplayed’ to a managerless side who had one win in eight. We had a lion’s share of the possession (almost 70%), but if the purpose is to merely keep the ball and not to try and penetrate, then that’s a pretty decent breather for any opposition. It were the trickeries and nutmegs of Nelson that were, kind of concerning for the Forest defense. About ours? The lesser we talk, the better it is. Our captain had quite a torrid time matching them with pace whereas Holding and Debuchy gave away the penalties. And Maitland Niles, too, didn’t had one of his better outings.

This was our second-string side, that has done fairly well until this game, this season. But the fact that Wilshere and Giroud both were absent from this group of players was pretty much telling. We had just one shot on target till Nketiah came up as a substitute and whacked one at their goalie. For once, when their goalkeeper messed up from which Welbeck scored, the comeback looked to be on the cards. But then, there’s a familiar Armand Traore, who ran through our jaded defense and then got (cleanly) tackled from behind, and earned them a spot kick. 4-2 – Done and dusted!

Up next is the two legged semifinal against Chelsea, in the League Cup. Our first team will be back again, after that enthralling 2 all. After winning the FA Cup thrice, in the last 4 years, the League Cup can do the trick, for a change. It’s been 25 years, since we have last won the League Cup and we’re yet to win it, under Arsene Wenger. After exiting from the FA Cup in the 3rd round, for the first time under our manager, the upcoming match provides a wonderful opportunity to paper over the cracks. The slight concern, in actually making it, is the fact that we’ve to play Chelsea twice and City(Of course Bristol) once, to lift it. Let’s just focus on defeating Chelsea over the course of two legs.

Tottenham’s current home is always welcoming!


Mehul Patel

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