OPPONENTS Sheffield United
COMPETITION League Cup Semi-final Second Leg
DATE Wednesday 28th January 2015
VENUE Bramall Lane






We are aware that Sheffield United will give it 100% for 90 minutes and their players will try hard too.  The fans will create a heated atmosphere, which Spurs will need to dampen down, but the passion of the crowd might spill over on the pitch, with an overly physical approach perhaps being punished by the ref.  For Tottenham, they will need to concentrate, keep their shape and play the ball at pace, but their own pace and not United's.  If they get carried away, they will be drawn into the Blades' tactics, as they will no doubt press for an early goal to level the aggregate score and then take the momentum to the Spurs end as they seek a lead.

Although they did not get many effort son the Spurs goal, Sheffield United are capable of scoring with Marc McNulty being their prime target man, with Jamie Murphy and the twinkle-toed Jamal Campbell-Ryce also scorers for the home team.  They don't have too many taller players, but from set-pieces will send the likes of Chris Basham and Jay McEveley forward to aim their free-kicks and corners at.

Tottenham's best hope is to ride the initial surge, but only if they can do it better than the late Leicester surge on Saturday and then settle down to pick apart the United defence with some good passing and sharp finishing.  After the number of games they have played lately, they don't need extra time, so need to realise the importance of finishing their chances.

Spurs need to make the United keeper Howard work for his wages and they can't afford to take their foot off the pedal at any time, as the Blades will want to be in their faces the whole time.  By playing our game with a bit of tempo, it might take the home team by surprise and the use of our passing on the break must be by making the right decisions to penetrate their defence.  If there is a chance of passing the ball around after we get a goal ahead, it might tire the League One outfit, but this should not be to try and run down time at the expense of going for another goal.  Don't go gung ho, but controlled play.

We do not seem at our best when we are ahead, but I would rather a "see it out" 1-0, then going behind, when things might get a bit jittery.

A strong side and a strong performance should be enough to get through, albeit with a scare along the way !!

PREDICTION Sheffield United    1         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Nacer Chadli is back in training, but will not play after returning to Belgium on the death of his father, while Nabil Bentaleb is still in African Cup of Nations action with Algeria and DeAndre Yedlin is in Chile with the US National team.

Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
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Radio :  
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Sheffield United  2 (0)                                                           Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)
(Tottenham win 3-2 on aggregate)

League Cup Semi-final Second Leg
Wednesday 28th January 2015                                                                                    Kick off 19:45
Bramall Lane
Adams  76m 29s
Adams  78m 49s
Eriksen  27m 21s
Eriksen  87m 14s
Doyle  (foul on Mason)  45+1m
Flynn  (foul on Dembele)  58m
Basham (foul on Vorm)  90+4m


Walker (foul on Murphy)  37
Mason (foul on Scougall)  47
Dembele (foul on Murphy)  55


Crowd :   30,236 Weather :  Snowy throughout; cold
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral) Assistant Referees :  - (-)
Fourth Official :  Mike Jones -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Kennedy Kop end in the first half.
Game time : -  90+7 minutes
Sheffield United : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Mark HOWARD

  7  Ryan FLYNN     
  6  Michael BASHAM     
  3  Rob HARRIS

  8  Michael DOYLE (c)       (22  Louis REED 65)
10  Stefan SCOUGALL
20  Jamal CAMPBELL-RYCE  (29  Che ADAMS 74    )

  9  Jamie MURPHY

12  Marc McNULTY  (21  Michael HIGDON 74)

Unused subs: 
22  Iain TURNER
  2  Craig ALCOCK
  4  James WALLACE

  13  Michel VORM

  2  Kyle WALKER      
15  Eric DIER
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN (c)
33  Ben DAVIES

38  Ryan MASON       (  3  Danny ROSE  91)
25  Benjamin STAMBOULI

19  Mousa DEMBELE       (  8  PAULINHO 66)
23  Christian ERIKSEN   
11  Erik LAMELA  (17  Andros TOWNSEND 74)

18  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
Federico FAZIO
  9  Roberto SOLDADO
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Manager :  Nigel Clough Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   John Holland Sales Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

As always with Spurs, the Tottenham Way is not the easy way and letting Sheffield United back into the game after taking the lead, meant a reprise of Christian Eriksen's speciality late goal to see them through to a Wembley League Cup Final against Chelsea in a repeat of 2008 ... or let's hope so !!

Snow fell heavy before kick off and eased as 19.45 approached. It was still cold and the home fans made a lot of noise in the build up to kick off. We were housed in the Jessica Ennis stand, the same stand where we were in when we won 2-0 in the League Cup at Bramall Lane in 1990.

With lots of early possession, Tottenham were stroking the ball around, but their first dangerous moment came when Kane took the ball off McEveley on the right hand touchline and put a low ball into the box which was cleared for a throw in.  After the first three minutes, Spurs began giving the ball away with their passes, but stuck at it and a neat passing move found Dembele moving into the box only to have the ball nicked off his toe for the first corner of the match in the eighth minute. It was aimed at the far post and a touch stopped it getting through to a yellow shirt beyond the far post.

With United's next attack, they almost scored. A cross from the right by Campbell-Ryce and Michel Vorm dropped the ball on Scougall's head and Murphy had a clear shot when it was played to him, but Vorm recovered to kick the shot away as he and Walker were back on the goal-line.

Tottenham's first effort on target came with a touch from Dembele on the halfway line to Eriksen, who released Lamela and he in turn played in Kane, who turned inside and hit a low shot, but Howard was behind it. As Sheffield sat deep, they won the ball off Spurs and then Spurs won it back. The home crowd were becoming quieter and Kyle Walker got space on the right to put in a low cross that Howard beat out and then the clearance fell to Dembele outside the box, but he could only pull his shot wide.

When Baxter gave the ball away to Lamela on halfway, he gave it to Harry Kane moving away to the right and he hit an early shot to try and catch the keeper off guard, but his shot went wide. Lamela ran into three striped shirts some 30 yards out and the ball reached Ryan Mason, who tried a first time effort from 40 yards that had Howard scrambling to his right to save. Dembele was doing well closing Sheffield United players down and he nicked the ball away on the halfway line, playing Kane through and his shot from a narrow angle on the left hit the outside of the post.

With 26 minutes on the clock, Benjamin Stambouli went on a rampaging run that brought a foul five yards outside the box to the right. Christian Eriksen stepped up and curled the ball over the wall rather than around it, hitting the inside of the post high near the bar and it went in and rippled the back of the net to give Tottenham a useful lead with an away goal to boot.

Tottenham needed to see out the remainder of the first half without letting United back into the game. Kane was played through by Eriksen helping a ball on and he made it into the left hand side of the penalty area and hit a low shot that Howard had to block at his near post. The pellet like snow started coming down again and Dembele did brilliantly down the right, beating three men before playing it back for Mason, who hit it first time, but pulled it a long way wide of the keeper's right hand post.

I'm not sure if the Blades players' heads went down, but Tottenham were first to every loose ball and playing simple short passes to keep it away from United feet. But when Stambouli tried to cut out a through ball on the halfway line, Scougall played a low ball into McNulty outside the area and he tee'd himself up for a volley that went a yard wide.   When a ball was won by United deep in their own half, Spurs hunted in packs and eventually the ball was picked off by Mason, who was fouled by Doyle as he ran towards the box. Same place as the free kick the goal came from, but this time Christian hit the wall. When the ball was recycled and Kane got into the box, his shot was blocked and Mason's effort from the rebound was also blocked by the home defence.

With United having shown little going forward, I expected Clough to get them fired up for a big second half push to get at Spurs and get around the Tottenham penalty area. Light snow was falling as Sheffield kicked off the second half, as the home crowd found their voice again. But when their first attack broke down, Mousa Dembele rolled his marker and surged forward, playing Kane in on the left. Harry cut inside and stretched to get his shot away, but it was pulled a little wide of Howard's near post.

Mason picked up a yellow for a foul and the free-kick was played in, causing Vertonghen to head back across his own six yard box and McNulty flicked a foot at the dropping ball and nudged it wide with Vorm having it covered. Another free-kick gave the Blades the opportunity to get their big defenders forward, but it was headed clear as the snow started to flurry around Bramall Lane.  Murphy tried a long range shot that didn't trouble Vorm as it went weakly wide of the goal and then Spurs broke at the other end to get Kane powering through to strike a low shot at Howard once more. Another free-kick for Sheffield cam to the right of the Tottenham box, as Dembele was booked for a foul on Murphy. It was played back to Basham, who struck a 25 yard shot that hit a Spurs defender just inside the area, as it looked as if it was going to hit the target.

The little spell of attacking got the crowd excited, but Tottenham stayed strong and played the ball around until a chance was created, with Dembele playing his part until he smashed the ball at goal, but well over the bar. Mike Dean bottled a decision when Ryan Flynn brought down Davies on the edge of the box, with the Sheffield player having been booked just minutes before. From the free- kick Eriksen once more struck the wall, but Spurs kept the ball alive and almost found Kane going through. United broke away and with good numbers forward, McNulty swung his cross out of play.

Paulinho replaced Dembele in the 66th minute, with United taking captain Doyle off and Louis Reed replaced him.

Kane put a 30 yard free-kick on target and it moved making Howard beat it down and take it at the second attempt, then Lamela played Ryan Mason bursting into the box and only a sliding challenge denied him the opportunity to finish the game off. A free-kick at the other end should have tested Spurs, but it was headed clear and when the ball came back into play from a throw in, Spurs won it and Kane put the ball through to Lamela, but he couldn't control it to be one on one and in on goal.

Changes took place in the 74th minute, Townsend entered play for Erik Lamela, while United brought on Higdon for McNulty and Che Adams for Campbell-Ryce.  And in the 77th minute, Sheffield United switched play to their right and Flynn went forward to put a  low ball across the face of the Spurs goal and when it was missed in the middle, substitute Adams ran in at the far post to slide it under Vorm to equalise on the night.

Tottenham seemed to lose a little composure and were loose with their distribution from the back, so, when a cross came in from the right, it fell for Adams again and he hit s shot that flew off Dier to fly past Vorm. The momentum was now with the Blades and Spurs needed to settle down and start playing again.

Two goals in just over two minutes gave the home crowd something to sing about and now it was Spurs who looked nervy. Flynn went through and set up Stefan Scougall on the edge of the 18 yard box but he scuffed his effort softly to Vorm.  When Flynn played the ball inside to Reed just inside the area, the United man hit it with power but not with any accuracy, firing it over the bar with Vorm exposed. At the other end, Davies played in Mason, but he couldn't get the ball under control as it sped off the surface. Eriksen did control his effort when Kane played him through going left in the area and putting his shot past the keeper the other way. It was a fine pass from Kane to put Christian in on goal and a composed finish with just three minutes left (again).

Rose came on as a late substitute for Ryan Mason, who had covered a huge amount of ground. With four added minutes, Sheffield had to throw caution to the wind. Basham was put up front and if Spurs worked the ball right, they could pick United off or eat up time.

As United went for the equaliser, Basham took a heavy touch and went through, studs up into Vorm's chest and face, producing some heated exchanges and only a yellow card for the Blades centre half. Every time United got the ball, they sought to get it forward as quickly as possible.  But they couldn't do it as quickly as they liked and after a spell of Spurs taking the ball into the corners, the whistle signalled a trip to Wembley for Spurs and Pochettino in his first season in charge. Chelsea await, but there will need to be a different approach to this match after they let United back in the game. Such slackness will be severely punished by the West London club.

The advertisement for Sky Atlantic's blockbuster “Fortitude” that ran around United's electronic boards said “It's not just the cold that kills.” No. It is goals and that was why Spurs went through thanks to Christian Eriksen. He is a real talent and his play tonight reminded me of Luka Modric, but with goals. His ability is sublime and in a pressure situation, he calmly stroked the ball just where no United player could get it to finally finish off their challenge.

Others had an in and out game, other than Kane, who never stopped running and giving the home defence problems, but Eriksen was head and shoulders above all the rest of the team.  Hopefully he can be head and shoulders above them holding the Cup on 1st March.

Grayling Barraclough



Bramall Lane was once the site of the old County Cricket Ground, thus Cherry Road is named after the colour of a new ball taken at the start of the day.  Another part of the ground was a former farmer's field.  With the huge piles of manure kept in an area towards the North of where the stadium is, there being so much poo there ... thus John Street.


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What you thought
Benny The Ball What a turnaround and then a turn-back !!  Talk about never making it easy for ourselves. 

Christian Eriksen is some player, but how much longer can he go on scoring late winners for us ?  Until 1st March, I hope !!

We must stop letting goals in, as we don't keep many clean sheets these days.  With one of the best keepers in the league, it can only be down to the changes in defence, not allowing the back four not develop an understanding.

Chelsea await and we have a won one lost one record against them this season and at Wembley it has been the same in the two meetings in the last seven years. 

I'll take a 5-3 win !!

Stan Chun Interesting that when United set up for Eriksen's free-kick, they split the wall to allow the keeper a better view of the ball.  Unfortunately, he took two steps to his left before the kick was taken (for no apparent reason) and that left him stranded as Christian's free-kick arrowed into the top corner to the keeper's right.

While they hit back to go ahead on the night, it resembled the semi-final we had at Burnley in 2009.

I don't think enough has been made of Kane's perfect pass to Eriksen for his second goal, which gave him the space and the angle to simply pass the ball past Howard,

- -.



Other semi-final score :
Chelsea (win 2-1 on aggregate) 1 Liverpool 0 Tuesday


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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