SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s reputation as a club that thrives in knockout competition was dented by an FA Cup exit at the hands of Leicester at the weekend but Mauricio Pochettino’s men remain close to reaching the League Cup final, nonetheless.
Only third-tier Sheffield United stand in their way and Spurs will arrive in Yorkshire for Wednesday’s second leg of the semi-final with a 1-0 lead
secured when the teams met in north London.
Spurs have won the League Cup four times in all and have reached the final three times this century alone, beating Chelsea in 2008 and then going down on penalties to Manchester United the following year, having previously lost in the 2002 climax to Blackburn Rovers.
A Wembley date with either Liverpool or Chelsea, who play on Tuesday, awaits the victors at Bramall Lane and Pochettino was keen for his players to forget about the Leicester defeat and seize the opportunity.
Goalkeeper Michel Vorm has been playing in the domestic cup competitions, with Spurs first-choice Hugo Lloris preferred for Premier League fixtures and in the Europa League, which resumes next month.
Dutchman Vorm was guilty of a bad error that led to Leicester scoring a late winner on Saturday, however, so it remains to be seen whether he will keep his place, especially as the hugely-experienced Brad Friedel is another option available to Pochettino.
Winger Erik Lamela made his comeback from a calf injury in the Leicester game following almost a month on the sidelines and is expected to feature against the Blades.
Sheffield United will be confident of causing an upset however as they boast a remarkable record in knockout competitions under Nigel Clough, their manager.
Of the 19 FA Cup and League Cup matches Clough has overseen, the Blades have lost only two, and neither of those defeats have come at home.