Are Tottenham practising for Europe?
SPURS seem to have come up with an ingenious idea to assuage their thirst for Champions League football – turn the FA Cup into a two-legged competition. Harry Redknapp's Lilywhites are certainly making the most of their stay...
By Ben Pearce
SPURS seem to have come up with an ingenious idea to assuage their thirst for Champions League football - turn the FA Cup into a two-legged competition.
Harry Redknapp's Lilywhites are certainly making the most of their stay in the tournament, having booked another replay with Bolton for next Tuesday night.
The victors will go on to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in two weeks and, if Spurs overcome the Trotters at the second attempt, they may well use their new European tactics again - nick a draw away and then beat them at home.
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Three years ago Tottenham faced the same tie in the fifth round and won 4-0 thanks to braces from Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, but that is the anomalous result over the last eight years.
Spurs have not won a Premier League game at Craven Cottage in their last eight attempts, since March 2002, and they were arguably fortunate to escape with a point in the Boxing Day stalemate this season.
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Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes earned the man of the match award in the goalless draw and, having comfortably won the reverse league fixture 2-0 at the Lane the following month, Redknapp and his players would probably take a draw on the Thames.
Of course, this all assumes that the Lilywhites dipose of Owen Coyle's Bolton next week, which is by no means certain - particularly when the tie could be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
The list of potential takers at Spurs is dwindling by the week and, having seen his spot-kick saved on Sunday, it is unlikely that Tom Huddlestone will step up again next time.
Jermain Defoe has missed his last two, and six of his last 10, while David Bentley fluffed his lines in last season's Carling Cup final, along with Portsmouth loanee Jamie O'Hara.
The fact that Huddlestone took over from Defoe suggests that Peter Crouch doesn't fancy doing the honours, and he has missed for both England and Liverpool in recent years.
It is not just an English malaise, and Luka Modric has also lost his bottle after missing for Croatia in a Euro 2008 shootout.
Niko Kranjcar is the next in line but, as Robbie Keane has departed, Vedran Corluka is the only current Tottenham player who has scored a penalty in the last year - in the Carling Cup final shootout.