Tottenham fans will be thinking of just one thing this weekend – beating Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final.
Victory would put Mauricio Pochettino’s men into their first FA Cup final since 1991 – and could have implications for the title race too.
To discuss Saturday’s hugely anticipated clash, Ladbrokes News grabbed an exclusive interview with Tottenham legend and FA Cup winner Teddy Sheringham…
Ladbrokes News: Teddy, we can’t wait for Tottenham and Chelsea to meet on Saturday evening at Wembley. How do you think the game will pan out?
Teddy Sheringham: This is a huge game, a massive game. And it’s one that Tottenham fans will have been looking forward to immensely since the draw was made – and even more so now!
I think the timing of the match is fantastic, because Tottenham have the chance to play them in the FA Cup before they have another league game.
If Tottenham beat Chelsea – and they really could – then it will put serious doubts in Chelsea’s minds for the Premier League run-in, so this is huge.
It’s a close one, but you have to say Chelsea are slight favourites. But with the form Tottenham are in, and with the little blip Chelsea have had – and I think everyone knew that would have a blip at some stage – the timing is perfect to counter their underdog tag and win this.
LN: How important is it that Tottenham and Pochettino turn their potential into trophy-winning success in the next few weeks?
TS: There’s been a lot of talk about Tottenham’s next step being to win a trophy, and obviously you’ve got to win your semi-finals to get to the big stages.
So yes, it’s time Spurs came to the fore, they’ve got to win big games like this to make that step, get to finals and then they can win the trophies.
When they talk of Pochettino and Tottenham’s potential, right now it is still potential. He’s forming a good team as a lot of previous Tottenham managers have done over the years.
In my time we had Terry Venables, Spurs have also had Harry Redknapp who got them into Europe and were doing very well but it’s never quite materialised for Tottenham.
But it’s about time it does happen for them and I think Pochettino is the man to do it.
LN: Who is set to steal the show and be the match-winner this Saturday?
TS: You do need star men but you need a star team performance. And that’s what I want to see from Tottenham this weekend.
It’s crucial they stick together as a team because Chelsea are very, very good, they’re very solid as a unit and they’ve got players who perform off of that, players like Eden Hazard.
Tottenham have to remember that it won’t be a glimmer of genius from Dele Alli, or Christian Eriksen or a Harry Kane wonder goal which will win this, it will be the whole team.
Pochettino needs his team – all of them – to produce 8.5/10s this weekend, and he’ll need some 9/10s from one or two to make this a winning team on Saturday.
LN: We all remember what happened last season when Tottenham lost to Chelsea at the Bridge, how might that impact things? And how will Diego Costa behave this weekend?
TS: To be honest, I really think losing a lead to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season will stand them in good stead here.
The players who played then are all still there and they’ll have learnt from the mistakes they made that night and how they let Chelsea upset them.
Pochettino will have definitely learnt a lot about his team that night and they’re all the better for it, hopefully we’ll see that on show this weekend.
Tottenham’s squad is excellent right now and they have pace and aggression to hurt teams, and after last season they now know how and when to use those assets.
LN: How will Tottenham handle Diego Costa? He hasn’t scored in five games and kept the referee busy last weekend…
TS: As for Diego Costa… he seems to have little spells in the season where he loses it doesn’t he?
Pochettino will know about that Latin temperament, he’ll know about Costa’s style and what might upset him if the Tottenham defenders treat him in a certain manner.
But equally of course Pochettino must make sure his players don’t get wound-up by Costa too, because he is a proper wind-up merchant, probably the best in the game!
He’s a proper player at the top of the pitch and I really admire Costa for the way he is, but he is a loose cannon as well.
But we love watching that type of player because they’re always on the edge!
LN: This season’s Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final line-up suggests the tournament is in rude health. What’s your opinion on the world’s oldest cup competition?
TS: If you’re a professional footballer then quite simply the FA Cup is right up high on their list of priorities every season.
That Third Round draw brings fantastic and intense drama every year, and it only builds from there the nearer you get to the final.
Now we’re in the semi-finals and we’ve got four of the biggest teams in the country and you can be sure they’ll be going hell for leather to win the FA Cup this year.
I’ve had some great experiences in the competition, winning it with Man United in 1999 – and scoring in the final!
I also had a really good run to the final with West Ham in 2006. But even back to my Millwall days, the FA Cup was always special and it still is!
LN: Finally Teddy, we’ve got to push you for a prediction this weekend. So who is going through to the final, Tottenham? Or Chelsea?
TS: It really will be a close one, but I’ve got to go with my old club Tottenham. They’re in such good form right now and they know what a win could also do for their Premier League hopes, so I’m saying Tottenham to win 2-1!
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