Despite being overwhelming favourites to progress with the bookies, Spurs put in a toothless performance in what should’ve been a routine away victory against Colchester. The mid-table League Two side – the lowest-ranked team left in the competition – followed up their impressive victory away to Crystal Palace in the second round with another sturdy display of patience and defence. It almost felt like a carbon copy from that game: another 0-0 draw followed by another penalty shootout victory.
Take nothing away from the U’s but it really does feel like Mauricio Pochettino got the game plan completely wrong this time around and should’ve learned from Palace’s mistakes. Of course, Spurs dominated possession as you’d expect in a tie like this. Yet despite having a massive 75% of the ball, we managed just four shots on target. That simply isn’t good enough and shows a real lack of focus, direction and, most importantly, killer instinct.
Another shot at silverware gone
Some fans may say that the Carabao Cup isn’t exactly a priority, but the fact is that it was one of our best chances to bring home so silverware this year. With Manchester City and Liverpool already looking to dominate the league and the prospect of another dazzling Champions League run looking pretty unlikely, we’re now realistically pinning all our hopes of success in the F.A. Cup. In fact, a quick look at the latest Premier League betting news and predictions shows that we’re still third favourites behind the two obvious candidates – yet the gap seems to be getting even wider, not closer.
We also can’t forget the fact that winning trophies is infectious, as any successful footballer will tell you. It brings a squad closer together, pushes them on to achieve more and gives far more experience and confidence in themselves. Unfortunately, we’re still at the stage where the pressure of cup competitions seems to be an issue, particularly our ability to manage our performances at each stage of the draw.
For Pochettino too, it’s a real blow to his chances of finally bringing a long-awaited trophy back to North London. His leadership has been the most important factor in getting us into the position we’re currently in – something we shouldn’t forget – though it really feels like a piece of silverware is the only thing missing to cap his achievements.
Where do we go from here?
It’s tough to take a positive outlook given the performances we’ve seen from Spurs in recent weeks – and it’s not just the Colchester game. We also need to take into account the physical and mental challenge of playing seven games in just 21 days, something that leaves very little time for recovery.
The focus now switches to two important home games in a row, Southampton in the league and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. If recent widespread media reports are anything to go by then the likes of Eric Dier are completely right in branding our performances as nothing short of embarrassing at the moment. Let’s see how we react on Saturday!