A key problem Tottenham have in cup competitions could be something Antonio Conte is starting to realise after their Carabao Cup semi final, first leg defeat to rivals Chelsea on Wednesday night.
Spurs beat West Ham in the quarter-final to reach the penultimate stage of the competition and although there is still a second leg to play, the Lilywhites will have a lot of work to do as they go into the game 2-0 down.
Conte’s side produced a low energy performance at Stamford Bridge which lacked quality in the final third but contained a lot of sloppy passing.
It is not the first time Tottenham have failed to step up in the latter stages of a cup competition and it is an all too familiar feeling for Spurs fans.
After the 2-0 defeat in the London derby, Conte gave a very honest verdict about where his new side are, in comparison with the top teams in the Premier League
“I think honestly that in this moment and the last years the level of Tottenham has dropped, it has dropped a lot,” the Italian admitted in his post-match press conference.
“We’re working a lot to try to fight also in the league and stay [up there], but at the moment we’re in the middle. Our situation is this. We’re in the middle, not up and not down, we’re in the middle.”
Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris also gave his verdict on the poor performance from his side on Wednesday.
“After that game there is some disappointment and also some regret. the way we started the game is a bit frustrating because you play a semi-final and at least if you can’t play good football you have to be ready to fight and compete and be more aggressive,” the French international admitted in an interview with Tottenham.
The skipper indicated that his team didn’t have the ‘fight’ that is needed in a game of this nature, against a top side who are not only one of Spurs’ close rivals but also in a game that could help them secure some much-needed silverware.
“Where there is a lack of aggressiveness on the pitch at some moment of the game you’re going to pay it and unfortunately it cost us the two goals,” Lloris explained.
“In front of us is one of the greatest teams in Europe and they [Chelsea] are much [more advanced] than us in terms of process and if we want to grow as a team, we need to learn from that type of performance because there was something in the balance.”
There were issues in all areas of the pitch with unorganised defending, poor service to the forwards and a lack of quality in front of goal.
Fans have been calling for some silverware in N17 since their Carling Cup final victory over the Blues in 2008 and since then, it has become clear that the Lilywhites often fail to turn up and fight in the last stages of cup competitions.
Since that victory, nearly 14 years ago, Tottenham have lost a semi-final in the competition to Chelsea and three finals to Man United, Chelsea and Man City. The City defeat was last season and came just days after Jose Mourinho’s sacking.
Not only have they struggled in the League Cup but in the FA Cup the Lilywhites have an even worse track record since their last win in the competition, in the 1990/91 season.
Since that victory over Nottingham Forest, Tottenham have lost eight semi-finals in the competition, including defeats to Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United.
Poor cup competition history also followed Spurs into Europe, with the memorable Champions League run they had under Mauricio Pochettino in 2019.
After a second half hat-trick from Lucas Moura took the north London side to the final, they lost 2-0 to Liverpool to shatter their European dreams.
There has been talk for years about Tottenham’s lack of silverware and it is something rival fans never fail to remind them of through chants at matches.
Under Nuno Espirito Santo, Ben Davies revealed the ambitions that many Spurs players have.
“There’s a good bunch of us, especially those who’ve been there a long time, myself included. We’re desperate to win something, and hopefully we can show that,” Davies explained.
This is why, when the serial winner in Conte was appointed as the new Tottenham boss, it lifted spirits and gave fans some hope.
However, the club were brought back to reality in the 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge and the Italian made it clear that Spurs aren’t at the level they were years ago and there is a long way to go to get them back there.
The Lilywhites still have a chance to progress in the Carabao Cup, albeit now a difficult job, as well as facing Morecambe in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday.
Therefore, it is not the end of the road to a trophy for Spurs this season but their history and track record highlight that when they are given chances that they should grab with two hands, they don’t seem to be able to do so.