The odds were certainly stacked against them, but this one really hurts for Tottenham Hotspur.
For even a casual fan of the beautiful game, it was painfully obvious Spurs were outmatched, outclassed, and ill-equipped to handle the pressure of the moment. A final score of 1-0 in the Carabao Cup Final is yet another powerful blow for the Lilywhites in a season filled with hard times. What’s worse, the tight margin of victory belies the dominance that Manchester City played with. Fans can no longer point the finger exclusively at former bench boss Jose Mourinho; it’s clear there are structural deficiencies within this team that require immediate attention.
Credit to City: they play some world-class footie and can beat most squads with their B team. Their run of dominance in the Carabao Cup, colloquially known as the “League Cup,” continues, with Pep Guardiola’s side earning their fourth straight championship. The ultimate prize at the end of the tunnel for City is still a Champions League triumph, but their domestic conquests are truly remarkable.
Right from the off, the pace and feel of the game were immediately established. Manchester City commanded possession and out-chanced Spurs 10-to-1; they also applied relentless pressure on Tottenham’s rearguard and forced several turnovers.
English phenoms Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling looked to score every time they attacked, and Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez tested captain Hugo Lloris on a few occasions. Yet at the end of the first half, the game remained scoreless.
The second half saw more opportunity for Spurs to punish City on the counterattack. On a few occasions, Spurs had the numbers to break through, but they severely lacked that finishing touch and quality required to win a title. As the game wound down, City reestablished a clear possession advantage and earned a free kick in the 82nd minute from a dangerous spot. An inch-perfect pass by the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne found defender Aymeric Laporte, who slotted a header into the bottom corner.
The remaining eight minutes and change were a mere formality; Spurs were beaten, both mentally and physically. As the full-time whistle blew, Heung-Min Son collapsed to the ground and broke into tears. Admittedly, it was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance from the South Korean, but his sadness is quite reflective of the current mood surrounding the club. Harry Kane’s future with Spurs is seriously in doubt, there are several clear weaknesses in the roster, and managerial questions abound. After several years of relative prosperity, it would seem they’re back to square one with nothing to show for it.
It’s hard to truly call yourself a “big club” without silverware; it’s also hard to not think about it incessantly when there’s a chance to finally win some. Another season filled with disappointment for Spurs, who have five games left in the Premier League to try and secure European football in 2021-22.
A couple of additional notes:
- Absolutely shocking Tanguy Ndombele didn’t see the field today; unless he’s nursing an injury, his absence makes no sense. He’s been one of Spurs’ most consistent players all season.
- Shoutout to American goalkeeper Zack Steffen for securing a clean sheet and a title victory. His workload was comically light, but he was there when City needed him.