Mauricio Pochettino is finally ready to give key stars some rest when Tottenham travel to Rochdale for their FA Cup 5th round tie, while new boy Lucas Moura could make his first start.
Tottenham’s somewhat list of big games have ended and are set to travel to Rochdale for their FA Cup 5th round tie, as Pochettino could give his key men some rest and ring changes to his side. Victories over Manchester United and Arsenal at home in the league and drawing Juventus in Turin must have his team oozing with confidence ahead of the cup tie.
After a trophyless period since his appointment at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino knows well the importance of the FA Cup and is very much in contention to win it, if his team could replicate the recent form till the end of the season.
The controversy leading to the game revolved around Pochettino’s comments on the state of Rochdale’s pitch. The issue was tackled by Rochdale who have announced the installation of a new surface, suggesting it was an unwanted expenditure, but one that will make the Spurs’ manager happy.
Tottenham will yet field a strong lineup, one that the manager thinks would take them into the next round to potentially face either of Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Team News & Tactics
Rochdale have a few injury concerns ahead of their first ever competitive game against Spurs. They will be missing their experienced striker Calvin Andrew, who missed the defeat against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday and expected to be out for long with an Achilles injury.
Other notable absentees are Niall Canavan and Keith Keane, who are long-term absentees for the club. Rochdale are expected to field their strongest side despite those absentees to test Spurs’ resolve and to find the first victory over top-flight opposition since 1971.
Probable lineup (5-3-2) – Lillis; McGahey, McNulty Delaney; Rafferty, Done; Cannon, Camps, Kitching; Henderson, Inman
Mauricio Pochettino will look to change the starting team against Rochdale, in the process giving valuable rest to key players. Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez have been heavily involved in the last few weeks, especially in victories over Manchester United, Arsenal and the draw with Juventus in Turin.
This would mean a starting spot for the struggling Fernando Llorente along with the first start for new signing Lucas Moura. Son Heung-Min could also start, and Pochettino will be hoping he plays a starring role in the absence of fellow regulars.
In defence, Toby Alderweirald could be given another start, as Pochettino continues his process of easing the centre-back into the team since his return from his injury. Danny Rose could also start at left-back and Pochettino could hand a start to defender Juan Foyth alongside Alderweirald.
Other players likely to start include Victor Wanyama, Mousa Sissoko, Michael Vorm and Harry Winks. Overall, the line up looks strong and full of quality, one that could take Spurs into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup this season.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1) – Vorm; Trippier, Foyth, Alderweirald, Rose; Wanyama, Winks; Moura, Sissoko, Son; Llorente
- This will be the first time Rochdale and Tottenham face-off in a competitive match
- Rochdale are yet to win an FA cup tie against a top-flight opposition, since beating Coventry 2-1 in January 1971 and since have lost six games.
- Spurs have progressed from 16 of their last 17 FA Cup ties against lower league opponents.
- If Spurs’ win, they will be in an FA Cup quarter-final in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-02
- Rochdale have never reached the quarter-final of the FA Cup before.
Player to watch
Since signing from PSG in the January window, the Rochdale match could be his first start, and he would be looking to impress the manager to consider him in the starting line up for Premier League games as well. A good performance against Rochdale could do him good and give Pochettino a selection headache in the next games.
Moura has been a consistent performer at PSG and will be raring to show what he’s capable of, albeit against much weaker opposition in Rochdale. Due to the likes of Neymar and Mbappe, Moura had found his game time shunted at PSG this season, and after some early promise in training, Pochettino would be keen for the Brazilian to shine.
Rochdale 0-3 Tottenham
On paper, this tie is pretty one-sided, with Tottenham clear winners. Due to their squad quality and experience of their stars, Tottenham are clear favourites in this tie and could go through to the Quarter-finals with a comfortable victory.
There could have been doubts about the scoreline if Rochdale had continued with their old pitch, but now that they have a new pitch in place, things could go well for the free-flowing Tottenham side.