Spurs star: FA Cup comeback proves we want to keep fighting in all four competitions
12:00 15 January 2015
Andros Townsend says Tottenham’s fightback against Burnley in last night’s FA Cup replay shows their determination to keep battling in all four competitions, despite the unforgiving schedule.
Spurs are pursuing a top-four place in the Premier League, while they are about to play a two-legged League Cup semi-final against Sheffield United and then resume their Europa League campaign in the last 32 next month.
Faced with that fixture congestion, head coach Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes to his side for last night’s FA Cup third-round replay against Burnley at White Hart Lane – and his side fell 2-0 behind inside the opening eight minutes.
At that point it would have been easy for Spurs to throw in the towel, reflecting that their busy schedule had caught up with them and highlighting the silver lining – that they could now focus on the other three competitions.
Instead, they immediately halved the deficit – with Townsend setting up Paulinho – and further goals from Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches and Danny Rose earned a 4-2 victory and a fourth-round home tie against Leicester next Saturday, which will be one of nine games for the club this month.
“The FA Cup is an important cup for us - it has been an important cup for Spurs down the years,” said Townsend. “We have got a real opportunity this year to go far, not only in the League Cup and the Europa League, but the FA Cup as well.
“To go 2-0 down was, in hindsight, a blessing in disguise. In the first six or seven minutes we were flat and then to concede two goals, we had to go for it, and thankfully the quality showed through and we got four goals.
“There are a lot of games coming up. We have got a big squad so it is important that the manager rotates the team, and to win 4-2 with seven changes is great for the squad mentality.
“He makes a lot of changes in the Europa League too - he makes 10 or 11 changes in the Europa League so I think we have got the squad and the belief to go on a run on all four fronts. Hopefully it continues.
“It’s going to be difficult - February and March are going to be difficult months but hopefully we have got the squad to pull it off.”
After a successful Christmas period, Spurs lost a 1-0 lead at Burnley in last week’s initial FA Cup tie, which ended 1-1, and then repeated the error at Crystal Palace on Saturday as the Eagles came from behind to win 2-1 at Selhurst Park.
That led to suggestions that Spurs’ schedule was proving too much for them, but Townsend disagrees with that assessment.
“I don’t think we looked tired against Palace,” he said. “You can’t play well in every match.
“We went 1-0 ahead and we thought we did enough just to not play well and see out the game. Then we conceded a penalty - which maybe was or wasn’t a penalty - and then the game changed there, which was unfortunate.
“If we don’t play well and see that out 1-0 then everyone’s applauding us and how good our character is to not play well and grind out a result. It wasn’t to be but there are a lot of games coming up to put that right and claw the points back.”
Townsend was pleased with the improved display last night – on an individual and collective level.
“I felt good [against Burnley],” said the winger. “I was very disappointed with my performance on Saturday – personally and as a team. We didn’t perform well.
“It’s good when you play badly and have a game three days later – there’s no time to think about it. It was doubly important for me to have a good performance last night and I was pleased with myself. Hopefully I can carry that on to Saturday now [against Sunderland in the league].”
Townsend was largely restricted to cup appearances earlier in the season, having to wait until November 9 for his first Premier League start of the season and until December 28 for his second as he battled with Erik Lamela and Aaron Lennon for a place in Mauricio Pochettino’s first-choice XI.
But, with Lennon out of favour and Lamela out of action with a calf strain, the 23-year-old is now the automatic choice on the right flank, starting five of the last six games in all competitions.
“When you have just got back into the team, it is important to keep playing well and when you do play badly it’s doubly disappointing,” said Townsend.
“But I think I knew the manager would rotate last night, I knew I would get my chance to show him what I can do. Thankfully I have done that and hopefully I can get another run-out on Saturday.
“Of course there is a chance for me [to stake my claim]. But even with Erik out, there’s Nacer [Chadli], there’s Danny [Rose], who played on the left last night, there’s Paulinho, who can play out there, [Christian] Eriksen can play out there. So there’s competition for places.”
Having set up Paulinho’s opener, Townsend should have had a second assist shortly before half-time against Burnley when he laid the ball on a plate for misfiring striker Roberto Soldado, who hit the bar from six yards.
It proved not to matter as Capoue equalised soon after, but Townsend was quick to console Soldado as they headed down the tunnel for the half-time break.
“I have been in that position before, when nothing will go in for you,” said Townsend. “He played well last night but he is a striker and he wanted that goal.
“I just ran over to him to keep his spirits up, and five minutes into the second half he put an assist on for Danny so it’s great for him and I think everyone’s pleased for him.
“I just said ‘keep going, I will try and put another cross in for you, so keep getting in the right positions and you will get your goal’.
“It was unlucky. Robbie is a fantastic character. He picked himself up, dusted himself down and put a great ball in for Danny in the second half.
“We have seen in Spain that he is fantastic striker. He just needs the service and the game time. I am sure that once he gets one or two, the goals will start flowing.”
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