It’s not every day you see a match finish 5-4, something Jose Mourinho has previously referred to as a “hockey score." Yet in their 5th round FA Cup tie against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur found themselves on the losing side of the scoring frenzy.
An enthralling, back-and-forth contest between the two sides is exactly what football fans were treated to on Wednesday. On a couple of occasions, Spurs had to dig deep and claw their way out of deficits, which will bode well for the rest of their season. But alas, Tottenham’s dream of winning their first FA Cup since 1991 is over.
🗣"The team is together and is fighting together"— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 11, 2021
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was disappointed to narrowly lose the 5-4 thriller to Everton in the FA Cup, but was happy with his team's fight pic.twitter.com/NW9Ee30HiB
Despite the disappointment, there are three lessons Tottenham can take away from the defeat to help guide them for the rest of the season:
• They have the ability to score. In recent weeks, Spurs’ offensive output has taken a severe hit. This is partly due to Harry Kane’s ankle injuries, but also because of a lack of creativity and cohesiveness when approaching the opposition’s net.
The FA Cup match against Everton reminded Spurs that they’re a serious threat offensively when they put it all together. Moreover, they can have confidence in their ability to fight back when faced with adversity; going one goal down isn’t the end of the world when scoring is coming in droves
• Their best starting XI is beginning to take shape. One of Mourinho’s great headaches this season has been figuring out who his best team is. In recent matches, certain players are beginning to distinguish themselves from the pack and have earned regular starting nods. In particular, forwards Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura should be starting every important game alongside Kane and Heung-Min Son. Tanguy Ndombele and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg are the clear alpha males in the middle of the pitch.
On the back end, even though they allowed five goals, the center-back combination of Davinson Sánchez and Toby Alderweireld is the most dynamic option Spurs have (as evidenced by Sánchez’s two goals vs. Everton). The fullbacks are still a bit of a question mark: left-back Ben Davies has been playing well in recent matches, but will he hold his starting spot once Sergio Reguilón is back from injury?
On the right side, Serge Aurier is the presumed starter when healthy. The Ivorian was absent from yesterday’s match with an injury. And obviously, captain Hugo Lloris is the goalie of choice.
• They HAVE to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Far too often, the ball ends up in the back of the Spurs net because of self-inflicted errors. A bad pass here, a missed defensive assignment there, poor communication, a lack of attention to detail…you get the idea.
That’s been the most frustrating part of this recent stretch of games. They’re losing not because of their opposition’s greatness, but because of their own inadequacies and mental lapses. If Spurs are serious about winning their first trophy since 2008, this absolutely has to be cleaned up.
Spurs won’t have any time to sulk on their FA Cup disappointment: they travel north this Saturday for a massive Premier League contest against first place Manchester City.