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FA Cup

Christian Eriksen unfortunate to be on losing side following Tottenham’s FA Cup defeat

Jake Jackman

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Despite playing on the losing side at Wembley on Saturday, Christian Eriksen was the WhoScored man of the match, underlining the quality of his performance.

It was an incredible occasion for the neutral as the top two sides in the Premier League battled for a place in the FA Cup final, but Chelsea were the better finishers on the day and they will be the ones returning next month.

Although Tottenham dominated the ball and created more chances, they didn’t have the quality on the day and were punished for a few uncharacteristic defensive errors.

That said, Eriksen can have no shame in his performance as the Dane did everything in his power to help his side triumph on Saturday.

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He is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. It is his team-mates, Harry Kane and Dele Alli, that take the headlines, but the midfielder is equally as important to this Spurs side.

Since joining from Ajax, the 25-year-old has developed into a fine creative midfielder and there have been few better in his position this season.

On Saturday, he got the assists for both of the Tottenham goals and it was his quality of delivery that helped the Lilywhites get back on level terms twice.

Although Kane will take the credit for what was a superb piece of skill to score the first goal, Eriksen’s delivery was on the money and provided the pace for the English striker to guide the ball into the back of the net.

However, it was his cross for the second goal that was most impressive. He had the ball just inside the Chelsea half, before firing a world class delivery into the box, taking the Blues’ entire defence out of the game.

The finish from Alli was excellent, but it was the Danish international’s vision and quality delivery that made the goal.

During the match, Eriksen completed 82% of his passes, which was more than the other two Tottenham attackers, highlighting the midfielder’s quality of distribution in the final third.

Moreover, he made six key passes on Saturday, which was by far the most of anybody on the pitch.

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The 25-year-old was excellent at finding space in the final third and he rarely made the wrong decision on the ball. He had the biggest impact on the game and it is disappointing that he was on the losing side, as his performance won’t receive the credit that it deserves.

The one part of his game that was slightly under par was his delivery from dead balls. Tottenham had 11 corners during the match, but they did not take advantage of them in the way that they could have, considering the aerial presence that they possess.

There were a couple of good deliveries from Eriksen, but many of them weren’t up to the level required to cause Chelsea real problems.

It is important that Tottenham move on quickly as they still have a chance of winning the Premier League title.

Chelsea may have secured a mental victory over their rivals on Saturday, but there is a lot of football to be played and they haven’t won the league yet.

Despite the result, Tottenham can be pleased with their performance and it is important that they take the positives from the game.

In Eriksen, they have one of the most in-form midfielders in the league and if he can continue to deliver at this level, Tottenham will be very threatening in attack over the coming weeks.

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Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

FA Cup

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham – Lucas Moura shines despite disappointing day for Spurs

Jake Jackman

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Tottenham

Tottenham are going to have to rely on a replay for the second successive round as they conceded a dramatic late equaliser to Rochdale. It was a reminder of the magic that the FA Cup still possesses and it will provide a useful cash injection for the League One club. Spurs opted to make several changes and rest key players, but they selected a team that should have progressed on the day.

Ian Henderson scored in the first-half to give Dale a first-half lead and it was deserved. Keith Hill’s team played good football and went toe-to-toe against their more illustrious opposition.

Lucas Moura and Harry Kane scored to put Tottenham into a 2-1 lead, but that wasn’t the end of the goal-scoring as Steve Davies scored to take the tie to a replay. Here are three talking points from Spotland:

Lucas Moura’s performance showed why Tottenham signed him

It was a signing that came out of left-field, as Tottenham prefer to do their transfer business in the summer. However, this opportunity was too good to turn down as they were given the chance to sign a proven Brazilian international. He had fallen on tough times at PSG and rarely featured this season, but he proved why the club signed him on Sunday.

The Brazilian wasn’t afraid of the fight and was up for the test offered by League One opposition. Every time he got on the ball, it looked like he could make something happen, as shown by his seven dribbles completed.

He had a touch of class that allowed him to stand out from the rest of the players on the pitch and if he can consistently perform at that level, he will turn out to be a great signing.

His movement was superb, as he regularly found pockets of space to exploit. Interestingly, he won five aerial duels and that shows that he has quickly adjusted to English football. It was Lucas that scored the equaliser mid-way through the second half with a confident finish. He will have played himself into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans for the coming weeks.

Rochdale impressed on their day in the spotlight

They were written off before a ball was kicked as they were facing one of the best teams in the country. Rochdale are currently rock-bottom of League One and 11 points from safety, albeit with four matches in hand. They laid a new pitch ahead of this match and the players adapted to it well, showing that they can play good football.

Callum Camps and Andrew Cannon impressed in the centre of the park, while their two wily experienced strikers got the goals. Ian Henderson was a tireless worker in the final third and put the Tottenham defenders under pressure.

He snatched at a couple of chances in the first-half, but he remained cool when another chance came his way and scored the opening goal.

It will be a tough ask for them to go to Wembley, but they can go there with no fear as they have nothing to lose. The tie will give them an injection of money that the club needs, especially if they are to suffer relegation this season.

Toby Alderweireld looks a long way from his best

The Tottenham defence didn’t look as assured as they usually do and both of their centre-backs struggled at times during the match.

Alderweireld was left out of the trip to Juventus and there were some supporters that questioned that decision. However, he looked short of match fitness against Rochdale and was arguably at fault for the late equaliser.

The Belgian international looked rusty and his decision making was not great. He picked up a yellow card for a rash tackle and that is one example of that. Juan Foyth played alongside Alderweireld and his inexperience showed when Rochdale did attack.

For Alderweireld, he wants to be back in the first-team and that is eventually where he will be, but he isn’t at the level required to be starting right now. Tottenham are fighting on multiple fronts and they can’t afford to have any players that aren’t at 100%. He is returning from a serious injury and he will need time to get back to his best.

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FA Cup

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Swansea City – Tammy Abraham didn’t take first-team opportunity

Jake Jackman

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Swansea

Swansea City were held in the FA Cup away to Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. The Swans have been drawn to face lower league opposition in every round of the competition so far and this occasion saw Carlos Carvalhal return to his former club. It was a huge day for him and he will be slightly disappointed by the performance that he witnessed.

Although the Premier League side selected a talented team, it was an even contest and both teams had chances to score. Neither team deserved to go through on this viewing and they will have to meet again at the Liberty Stadium in just over a week’s time.

It will be interesting to see who will await the winners of this tie in the next round and that could dictate whether Swansea take the replay seriously or not. Here are three talking points from Hillsborough:

Tammy Abraham didn’t take his opportunity

It was a frustrating day for Tammy Abraham as he had few chances to impress in the final third and he was taken off midway in the second half. That will be a disappointment for the forward as this was an opportunity to earn more game-time in the Premier League and his contribution on Saturday is unlikely to bring that.

During the match, he failed to have a single attempt on goal, while his pass success was at a poor 58%. The service he received was non-existent as shown in the second half when Luciano Narsingh refused to play the striker in.

Abraham did nice work to release the winger and spin in behind his marker, but the return ball didn’t arrive. The striker was visibly annoyed that the ball wasn’t given back.

Jordan Ayew was the man that replaced Abraham and he offered more when he was on the pitch. He was willing to drop deep to be given possession, while he got two attempts in on goal during his short time on the pitch.

His distribution was more effective, as displayed by his two key passes. The former Aston Villa man is the player that should lead the line for the relegation-threatened club.

Adam Reach stood out in midfield

This has been a season to forget for Sheffield Wednesday as they are a considerable distance off promotion, despite being one of the best Championship teams in recent seasons.

The match against Swansea provided the players with an opportunity to prove they can compete with Premier League opposition and Adam Reach was one of the standout performers.

The 25-year-old showed glimpses of both attacking and defensive quality, which shows he can contribute in both halves of the pitch. He will be the first to admit his final ball could have been better, but he regularly got in positions to cause problems for the away side. During the match, he attempted three shots and completed 86% of his passes.

Meanwhile, he worked hard out of possession and didn’t allow Swansea to dominate the midfield battle. Reach won four tackles and made a further two interceptions. He was relentless in work rate and his energy rubbed off on the rest of the team. The midfielder will be a player to keep an eye on in the replay.

Alfie Mawson had to miss the match through injury

The Swansea City defender was pencilled in to start in the match, but he was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced in the starting eleven by Kyle Naughton.

This was a major blow for the team as Mawson is a born leader at the back and offers composure to the back-line. He was later pictured wearing a knee brace and holding crutches, in what was a worrying sight.

The last thing Swansea need is a serious injury, especially to one of the team’s most important players. Towards the end of the game, the cameras showed that he was moving his leg more freely, but it is a concern nonetheless.

Naughton came in and did well, with one excellent challenge saving a goal in the first-half. The entire Swansea defence played well, with Kyle Bartley standing out as a Premier League centre-half.

The former Leeds United loanee won five aerial duels and made four ball recoveries. He could be required to step up if Mawson has to miss some of the run-in.

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FA Cup

Tottenham 2-0 Newport County: Erik Lamela’s confident performance among three talking points

Jake Jackman brings us three talking points from Wembley as Tottenham progressed in the FA Cup with victory over Newport County.

Jake Jackman

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Tottenham
Photo: Reuters

Tottenham qualified for the fifth round of the FA Cup with a routine home victory over League Two Newport County.

The Welsh side can feel proud that they made their more illustrious opposition work hard for a spot in the next round.

After a superb performance a couple of weeks ago, Michael Flynn’s side started brightly at Wembley and caused Spurs problems once again.

However, the class soon shone through and the hosts could have scored more on another evening.

Here are three talking points from the match…

Tottenham have a great chance of winning the FA Cup

Although Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection showed that this competition isn’t a priority at present, they are now entering the fifth round and that should focus attentions.

Tottenham have been drawn to face Rochdale away from home in the next round, which will be a tricky tie, but one they should progress from.

If they do manage to avoid a shock against a League One side, they will be in a great position to lift the trophy.

As Pochettino has yet to win a major trophy as a manager, he should be taking this competition seriously as a triumph would be a landmark in both his and the team’s progression.

Anybody that has followed Premier League football over the last three years will rave about the quality of the squad that the Argentine has put together, but a trophy would take it to them to the next level.

Despite the FA Cup losing its magic, it remains a well-respected competition and it would mark a successful season if Tottenham were to win it in May.

Newport County emerge with respect

It was always going to be a difficult tie for Newport County, but these two matches will be looked back on with fondness as they more than played their part.

During the first fixture, they had several great chances and led for a long period of the game.

Although they conceded a late equaliser, they managed to hold a team that had previously beaten Real Madrid this season and that is a remarkable achievement.

Few people expected a similar performance on Wednesday, but they competed well in the early stages and tried to attack Tottenham at Wembley.

Once the first goal went in, there was only one winner.

However, Newport continued to work hard and they didn’t allow the score to get embarrassing.

They will have feared a humiliation at the hands of Tottenham, especially after seeing fellow League Two side Notts County get thrashed away to Swansea City, but it was far from that.

The Welsh club exit the competition with pride and they can now focus on challenging for a play-off place in the league.

It will be interesting to see how they and Notts County react from these defeats, especially as one was far more embarrassing than the other.

Erik Lamela took a major step in his recovery

The Argentine attacker has been out for a long time with a serious injury and Tottenham are being careful in the way they are managing him back to full fitness.

He has shown some nice flashes in the Premier League since his return, but this was the first time that he looked back to his former self.

Lamela was running the games at times and looked full of confidence, trying to make things happen for his side.

It would have been easy for him to go through the motions against lower league opposition, but he appeared motivated and that is an encouraging sign for the future.

Lamela scored the second goal to put the game beyond doubt.

It was nice movement from the Argentine winger to find space in the box before coolly slotting past Joe Day.

This was his first goal since returning from injury and it will give him confidence to take into a crucial run of matches for Tottenham.

His critics will point to the quality of the opposition, but he can only play what is in front of him.

Also, he was the only Spurs’ player to find the back of the net on Wednesday, which does make him look good.

At the age of 25, it is time for the Argentine to push on and fulfil the potential everybody knew he had when he arrived in England.

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