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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.

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

FA Cup

Three musts for Tottenham to achieve victory in their FA Cup semi-final

FA Cup success will be key to Tottenham’s season.

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur face off against Manchester United in a high-profile FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, undoubtedly marking their biggest match of the season.

Here are three things Spurs must do to secure their place in the May 19 final.

Get Eriksen involved

Christian Eriksen has perhaps been Spurs’ standout player this season, delivering consistently superb performances and chipping in with crucial goals.

In order for Spurs to gain the upper hand against the Red Devils, the Danish midfielder must control the game and be at the heart of every Spurs attack.

If Eriksen is at his unplayable best, he can combine effortlessly with the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and break down the United backline with ease.

Keep Lukaku quiet

Romelu Lukaku presents United’s most potent goalscoring threat, and with 27 goals to his name this season, is enjoying a career-best year.

Lukaku came off the bench against Bournemouth on Wednesday and slotted home an assured finish, marking his eighth goal in his last ten appearances for club and country.

The Belgian’s red-hot form will give Tottenham’s centre-backs cause for concern, but his Belgian international teammates will have to be more than up to the fight to nullify Lukaku.

Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will know Lukaku’s strengths all too well and must be strong and resolute to deny the striker any whiff of goal.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Stop the feared United comeback

If Spurs end up taking the lead at Wembley, they must be vigilant of letting Manchester United back into the match.

The Red Devils have shown an incredible knack for getting back into matches; their 3-2 come-from-behind win at the Etihad is a prime example of that. United have also recently beat Crystal Palace after trailing 2-0, and clearly never consider themselves out of a match.

Tottenham must be mindful to not let their concentration slip when ahead, as Manchester United will surely make them pay.

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FA Cup

How Wigan Athletic have helped to rekindle the magic of the FA Cup

Wigan Athletic’s dramatic FA Cup fifth round victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City has helped to rekindle the magic of the competition, writes Rob Meech.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

FA Cup shocks don’t come much bigger than Wigan Athletic’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

The League One club produced a sensational performance to knock out the Premier League champions-elect, whose hopes of winning an unprecedented Quadruple were left in tatters.

Will Grigg was the unexpected hero for the hosts, as his 79th-minute strike sent the 2013 winners into the quarter-finals and the club’s supporters into dreamland.

Wigan’s adventure has been beset with obstacles.

But, one by one, these have been overcome and a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final is now a realistic proposition.

City are the third successive top-flight team to have been eliminated by the Latics, following Bournemouth and West Ham United who exited in rounds three and four, respectively.

Now, it is struggling Southampton that stand between Paul Cook’s men and the last four.

Arguably, City are the form team in Europe and one of the favourites to lift the Champions League.

But when it comes to the FA Cup, the form-book goes out of the window.

Despite being the runaway Premier League leaders, City succumbed to only their third defeat in all competitions this season.

Although the inevitable DW Stadium pitch invasion that greeted the final whistle sparked some unsavoury scenes, the result will be remembered as one of the greatest ever upsets.

There has been much talk about how the FA Cup has become devalued in recent years.

On top of an evening kick-off for the final, many clubs – not exclusive to the Premier League – field weakened teams and view the competition as an unwelcome distraction.

This has led to some pundits calling for it to be refreshed. Potential ideas include the scrapping of replays.

However, a by-product of big clubs treating the competition with disrespect is that the number of upsets has increased.

It’s not just Wigan who have sprung a surprise or two this season.

Coventry City belied their League Two status to dump out Stoke City in round three, while Newport County of the fourth division took Tottenham Hotspur to a money-spinning replay at Wembley Stadium.

League One’s Rochdale have done likewise in the fifth round, thanks to a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser at Spotland.

Despite what television companies might think, there is little appetite for watching two Premier League teams playing each other in the FA Cup.

Football enthusiasts want a chance to see the underdog have its day.

Wigan’s story has captured the imagination of supporters of all clubs, up and down the land.

Their stunning victory over a City side that, although not at full strength was nonetheless full of internationals, reinforced the legend of the FA Cup.

The romanticism of the competition has been rekindled this season, something for which Wigan deserve enormous credit.

Another factor is at play, though.

It may sound like a paradox, but if the FA Cup is to remain relevant then it needs the elite clubs to continue to treat it as an afterthought.

That way, shocks like Wigan’s will be repeated in seasons to come and interest in the world’s oldest domestic cup competition will remain high.

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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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