Nacer Chadli, Harry Kane and four-star Tottenham deliver ‘fantastic’ night for Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur put in one of the best performances of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign as progress to the League Cup semi-finals was secured in style.
The former Argentina defender’s start to life in North London has not been without its teething problems, but things appear to now be moving in the right direction.
Spurs have taken 10 points from a possible 15 in the Premier League and, on Wednesday evening, secured a League Cup semi-final against Sheffield United by thrashing Newcastle United.
Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli, Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado all scored in a 4-0 victory which puts them within a two-legged semi-final of Wembley.
“It was fantastic,” Spurs head coach Pochettino said. “It was a fantastic night, a very good performance from the team.
“I am very happy because I think tonight was the first time that there was the relation between the team and supporters.
“It was brilliant at White Hart Lane and I enjoyed it a lot tonight.”
Asked if this was the best Spurs display since he took charge in the summer, Pochettino said: “I don’t know but maybe. Maybe.
“I think some games we played very well but this result was important for us.
“It has home, it is in front of our supporters and we go to the semi-finals of the League Cup.
“We know Tottenham have a lot of tradition in the cups and I think this victory is very important for us.”
This felt like a turning point for Spurs, having struggled at home this campaign – a welcome boost ahead of Burnley’s arrival on Saturday.
That match, and the hectic Premier League calendar, is Pochettino’s only focus now, given the Europa League and League Cup do not restart until the new year.
A clash against Fiorentina awaits at the last 32 juncture in Europe, although the draw has been kinder domestically having been pitted against Sheffield United.
Sheffield lie fifth in League One but Pochettino will not be taking them lightly, especially having seen former club Southampton become the fourth Premier League team this year to go out of cup competitions to them.
“I think that we need to have full respect for Sheffield United,” Pochettino said. “It is a team from League One but they deserved to stay on to the semi-final.
“Yesterday we watched the game and they fully-deserved to stay in the semi-final.
“But we need now to stop and be focused on the Premier League. Saturday is a very important game for us and after, when we arrive in January, we will focus on this game.
“We fully respect them and in football you never know. We need to be careful, be ready and always alive in every game. It is not an easy game.”
While Spurs return to league action buoyed by progress, this was not Newcastle’s ideal preparation for the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland on Sunday.
“If ever the cliche of goals changing games was relevant, this was it,” United manager Alan Pardew said.
“I thought the game was pretty even, really. Jak [Alnwick] makes a mistake on the cross and you can get away with that sometimes, if the defender clears it or strike hits it over the bar.
“But it goes in and that kind of summed up our night, really. We had some chances, big chances that we didn’t take.”
To make matters worse for Newcastle, there is a possibility that third-choice goalkeeper Alnwick could be absent for the Sunderland match.
The 21-year-old, playing in place of the injured Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, fell awkwardly on his shoulder on Wednesday night, meaning Pardew could look at trying to bring in an emergency loan.
“He has an injury to his shoulder so we’re going to have to see,” Pardew said.
“It is something we might have to look at tomorrow because there is no way that a 17-year-old [Freddie Woodman] – that’s our fourth-choice – should be allowed to go in goal at this level.
“We will perhaps talk to the Premier League tomorrow about Jak’s situation.”
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Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM