Spurs to heal old wounds

FA Cup semi­fi­nal against Chelsea pro­vides shot at re­demp­tion and mo­men­tum

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT 14 -

TOT­TEN­HAM Hot­spur fans could be ex­cused for putting their faith in the old mantra “what goes around comes around” as to­mor­row’s seis­mic FA Cup semi­fi­nal against Chelsea looms.

Decades of mis­ery have been in­flicted by a club they once lorded it over, so vic­tory at Wem­b­ley would not only heal some of the scars but also fuel be­lief that the Pre­mier League ti­tle race could yet have a fi­nal twist.

While a win would put Tot­ten­ham in their first FA Cup fi­nal since they beat Not­ting­ham For­est in 1991, pos­si­bly against north London ri­vals Ar­se­nal who play Manch­ester City on Sun­day, it could have wider ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the fi­nal weeks of the sea­son.

In the space of a few weeks Tot­ten­ham have whit­tled long-time league lead­ers Chelsea’s ad­van­tage down from 13 to four points thanks to their own daz­zling form and de­feats by Crys­tal Palace and Manch­ester United for An­to­nio Conte’s side.

The cracks that have ap­peared in Chelsea’s fa­cade could open wider should they suc­cumb to a ram­pant Tot­side seven ten­ham who have won suc­ces­sive league games. Con­versely, should Chelsea pre­vail it would give them the im­pe­tus to claim the Pre­mier League and FA Cup dou­ble they last achieved in 2010. “For the neu­tral it’s a fan­tas­tic game and for us it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to go into a fi­nal,” Chelsea de­fender Gary Cahill said. “Two very good sides are go­ing against each other. Ev­ery top player en­joys big games and this is a huge one at the week­end. But you only en­joy them if you win them.” The last of Chelsea’s seven FA Cup tri­umphs came in 2012 when they also met Tot­ten­ham in the semi­fi­nal. It proved to be a chas­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Tot­ten­ham as they were crushed 5-1 with the aid of a dis­puted goal scored by Juan Mata. If that were not a bit­ter enough pill to swal­low, a few weeks later Tot­ten­ham saw a Cham­pi­ons League place ripped from un­der their noses when Chelsea im­prob­a­bly beat Bay­ern Mu­nich in Bavaria to win the com­pe­ti­tion. Tot­ten­ham had fin­ished fourth to Chelsea’s sixth in the Pre­mier League and or­di­nar­ily would have qual­i­fied for the Cham­pi­ons League. In­stead Chelsea did as win­ners and Tot­ten­ham dropped into the Europa League Chelsea have been at pains to dis­tance the ti­tle race from Satur­day’s duel, but mo­men­tum is key when the sea­son reaches the fi­nal sprint and while an all-Lon­nal don Cup semi­fi­nal hardly needs sell­ing, the fact that it is be­tween the two clubs con­test­ing a two-horse ti­tle race

We all know you either go to the (FA Cup) fi­nal or you don’t and so we must put in 200% to reach the fi­nal. It won’t be easy be­cause Tot­ten­ham now are the best team. They are in great form and they have a lot of en­thu­si­asm be­cause they are feel­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of writ­ing his­tory.” If you an­a­lyse where we came from, it’s a fan­tas­tic time for Tot­ten­ham. And how you build your project is im­por­tant to an­a­lyse. Tot­ten­ham is not build­ing now in an ar­ti­fi­cial way. It is not about putting in money and build­ing a fan­tas­tic sta­dium.”

PIC­TURE: NURPHOTO

MAGIC FEET: Chelsea’s Bel­gian for­ward Eden Haz­ard. STRIKER SUPREME: Tot­ten­ham mid­fielder Dele

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