Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur met at the Wembley for a mouth watering Fa Cup semi-final clash and the game was one that shouldn’t have been missed by football fans. The Red Devils came out victorious with a 2-1 scoreline against Spurs.
Although the match started with Tottenham dominating the proceedings in the starting minutes of the match with the Spurs scoring within 15 minutes of the kick-off, United slowly picked up the pace and came from behind to beat Mauricio Pochettino and his men to reach the final of the FA Cup.
Here at Arsedevils, we evaluate the five important points that pushed United ahead of the Spurs that you might have missed:
#1 Pogba And Sanchez Step-up
No two players have ever been under as much scrutiny as United’s star duo, Alexis and Pogba. One a record signing and the other with a glowing reputation in England. Safe to say both have underwhelmed this season. Pogba has been on and off and Sanchez hasn’t had the best of starts to life at United.
But the key to United’s success in the coming seasons has to be the co-ordination between those two. It was evident in the game against City, a terrific second-half comeback was possible because of Sanchez putting in all three crosses, two of which were converted by Pogba.
The FA cup semi-final was another reminder of that telepathy, with Pogba shrugging Dembele off the ball and the immediate run by Sanchez into the box anticipating the cross. United’s stars stepped up when it mattered the most and the prospect of those two combining in the years to come is mouth-watering.
#2 Herrera’s Work-Rate
Ander is a fan-favourite, no doubt about that. He won United’s Player of the Year last season and his doggedness and commitment in every game embodies the United spirit and evokes memories of a certain Wayne Rooney.
This season though, he seems to have fallen off Mourinho’s radar with only sporadic appearances. He was duly started in the all-important Champions League quarter-final against Sevilla but walked off with a hamstring injury and United’s ultimate ouster from Europe’s premier competition could be attributed to that unfortunate incident.
But Herrera seemed to seal his spot in the starting XI with that performance against Spurs. One minute he was heading the ball back to De Gea and 30 seconds later, he was outside the opposition’s box to fire United into the lead. He is someone who never shies away from his responsibilities. Even when he has a bad game, you can be rest assured that the effort will not be missing from the Spaniard.
— ?????????? (@kakyuds) April 21, 2018
#3 Spurs Baffling Decision To Start Vorm
Mauricio Pochettino has single-handedly transformed Spurs into the free-flowing side that they are today. They finished second in the Premier League last season and have impressed this season too despite not reaching the high of the last one.
All through this period, their rock was their skipper, Lloris. He came with a high reputation from France but enhanced it to world-class with his keeping at Tottenham. Though still prone to some silly errors, he is ultimately a top keeper. So it was strange when the Spurs starting XI named Vorm instead of Lloris for the all-important FA cup semi-final.
Considering that it was Spurs’ only realistic chance of winning a trophy this season and fourth place more or less guaranteed in the PL, Lloris should have been the one between the sticks for Spurs. It is possible that the move to put Vorm in might have gone unnoticed had he not let Herrera’s shot straight through his body.
#4 Defensive Stability
Though United have the second-best defensive record in the league this season, their defence has come under scrutiny several times. The 2-0 loss against Tottenham in January was just the lowest point for the defence with that embarrassing own goal by Phil Jones. His partner at centre-back that day was Chris Smalling.
So United fans could have been forgiven for feeling slightly concerned when the duo was named again in the starting line-up against Spurs of all sides, considering that Bailly was fit to start. And the fears did come true when Dele Alli scored within 15 minutes into the game. The defence was caught terribly out of position and United fell back in yet another game. But that was the last time that they were caught out.
Jones and Smalling, once envisaged as the future England centre-back pairing showed why they were rated so highly. They never let Harry Kane out of their sights and sat tight on him throughout the game. Spurs attacking outlet suffered as a result and eventually United won the game.
Other Manchester United Related Articles
#5 United’s Mentality
The Moyes era was a forgettable one for United with an aging squad and a tactically clueless manager resulting in a dismal 7th place in the Premier League. But what suffered most was the big-game mentality. United suffered losses against all the top teams but what was most appalling to watch was the lack of spirit to compete.
Louis Van Gaal somewhat restored that in his two seasons in charge with United coming back in that famous FA cup final win against Palace, humiliating Alan Pardew in the process. This season too, the response to going back has been evident. United have fallen back in games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Spurs and have emerged victorious each time. Three of those were against top-six teams.
Simultaneously Spurs do not have the same mentality in big games as was clear in their Champions League capitulation against Juventus.