5 talking points from Tottenham’s 3-0 FA Cup triumph over Fulham
Having picked virtually a full-strength team against Gent on Thursday night, it seemed reasonable to predict that Spurs’ manager would make a number of changes at Craven Cottage today, freshening up his side while taking the opportunity to have another look at some of his reserve players with a view to the summer transfer window.
However, he picked a surprisingly strong line-up for the second match in a row, retaining six members of Thursday’s line-up – including Harry Kane, who had suffered a blow to the knee in Belgium three days earlier.
While there were five changes, three of the incoming players would arguably get into Spurs’ strongest XI at the moment – Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son and the returning Jan Vertonghen, who made a welcome comeback from injury and lined up alongside Toby Alderweireld to reunite the Lilywhites’ best centre-back pairing.
Deputy defenders Kevin Wimmer and Cameron Carter-Vickers had started all of the previous domestic cup ties this season, but they were left on the bench, along with Josh Onomah and Vincent Janssen – and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was left out of the squad altogether.
All five players would probably have hoped to start this match, but the message seems clear: Pochettino is done with handing out undeserved opportunities to underperforming squad men, and does not even trust some of them to start against a Championship side.
After the back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Gent, he was taking no chances this afternoon and was determined to regain some confidence and momentum.
2. Tottenham make a much brighter start this time
Pochettino’s team selection was rewarded as his players put some recent slow starts behind them and came roaring out of the blocks.
The theme for the match was established early on as the excellent Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli both went close in the opening five minutes – and the visitors took the lead in the 16th minute as Eriksen crossed for Kane.
It helped Tottenham’s players to relax and they began to enjoy themselves far more than they have done in recent weeks. The only frustration was that they were unable to extend their lead in a first half where they had 11 shots, but only three on target.
Indeed, Fulham had the final two chances before the interval, providing a timely reminder that the tie was by no means won as Pochettino prepared for his team talk.
Nonetheless, the Argentinian will be looking for more first-half displays like this.
3. A good day for the two Harrys