Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur learned their FA Cup fate on Monday night, as the draw which followed Chelsea’s triumph over Manchester United paired the North Londoners with the high-flying Blues. Of course, if Pochettino’s men can overcome Chelsea in their Wembley semi-final, there remains the chance of a North London Derby final, with bitter rivals Arsenal taking part in the other semi-final clash against Manchester City.
With Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League virtually unassailable, the FA Cup remains Tottenham’s only realistic shot at winning a trophy this season, and winning the tournament would constitute the first tangible achievement at the club since Mauricio Pochettino’s revolution got underway in 2014. In terms of the league clashes between the two sides, both have a win each, with Chelsea coming out on top 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in November, before Spurs avenged that defeat with a 2-0 victory at White Hart Lane back in January, ensuring both have everything to play for in their Wembley semi-final.
Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who was speaking as a BBC Match of the Day pundit after Chelsea’s win, said the following after the draw: “Tottenham have given Chelsea problems this season and it is a London derby too so gives it an edge”.
“They are two very form teams but I think Chelsea are slight favourites as it stands.”
The ties will be played out on the 22nd and 23rd of April, and the possibility still remains that Spurs will have to overcome the Blues minus their talisman Harry Kane, as the forward awaits the results of a scan on an ankle injury incurred against Millwall.
The loss of Kane will undoubtedly leave Tottenham with not only the task of replacing his goals, but his influence and physical presence up front, and former Arsenal legend Ian Wright has aimed a dig at his old adversaries, writing in his Sun column that Kane’s injury will be detrimental to their top-four prospects.
“For six months they had high hopes of ending the season as champions, but right now I reckon Tottenham have got a battle on their hands to just guarantee a top-four finish”, Wright said.
“That’s how massive the loss of Harry Kane will be to them. That’s how much I believe they will struggle to cope without him.
“Losing Kane leaves a massive, massive hole in that Tottenham team and it’s opened the door for those breathing down their neck. Manchester City are only behind on goal difference with Liverpool just one point adrift, and the only blessing for Spurs is that those two play each other on Sunday.”
Amongst the likely candidates to replace Kane in the event of a long-term absence are Son Heung-Min, who has proven his versatility by excelling in the central role this season, and Vincent Janssen, a more traditional Number Nine figure who has struggled for form, but may have turned a corner following his first goal from open play for the club against Millwall over the weekend.
Spurs hit six past their League One opponents, and despite the gap in quality, it suggests that Pochettino’s men are at least capable of finding the net without the England hit-man, but now will be the time where those waiting in the wings will have to stand-up and be counted. The signing of Janssen was more than likely made with this very scenario in mind, and either he, Son, or perhaps both players, will need to shine if they are to banish the club’s Achilles heel of a lack of depth this season.
This lack of depth is something that Mauricio Pochettino is poised to address in the summer, although he may have a spot of bother according to El Mundo Deportivo, with Atlético Madrid supposedly set to begin pursuing Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi, who is a reported summer transfer target for Spurs.
The 22-year-old forward has netted 40 goals in 102 appearances for Sassuolo in Serie A, and is thought to be on the radar of Tottenham and Liverpool. Inter Milan are another interested party closer to home according to the report, but previous assertions that Berardi had already agreed to join the Nerazzurri at the end of the season now seem unlikely, with Atléti ready to make a second move for the forward after Sassuolo rebuffed an initial approach last summer.
If Spurs are in the market for the front-man, it can only raise further questions about Vincent Janssen’s future at the club, given that Pochettino prefers to utilise only one lone-striker on the pitch at once. That said, if Kane is to be out of action for more than a couple of weeks, it could render Janssen’s contribution in that time all the more important in deciding where he will be beyond this season.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Luigi Pavia.