2021 increasingly looks like the year when Tottenham will end their 13-year wait for a trophy.
They took a big step on that trip on Tuesday night, beating the Brentford Championship in the EFL Cup semi-finals to reserve their place at Wembley for the later-than-usual final in April.
It was nervous at times – especially when Ivan Toney’s equalizer was ruled out for offside by the smaller of the margins – but for the most part it was further evidence of the change in mindset Jose Mourinho would have brought about. in North London.
In truth, the Spurs never seemed to “make a Spurs” against Brentford. They kept an impressive Bees squad at their fingertips throughout and got the job done with a goal in every half. The first was scored by Moussa Sissoko, who capitalized on a socially distant defense to signal the excellent center of Sergio Reguilon.
Spurs went on to dismiss a few good chances to put the game out of doubt, before Son Heung-min did just that, ending a trademark counterattack with a venomous strike.
The Mourinho factor should not be underestimated in this result. As pointed out by Opta after the game, the Spurs boss only became the third manager in history to reach the League Cup final with three different clubs. Winning games like this is what he does best, as evidenced by his near-perfect semi-final record.
Few managers in world football are as well equipped to shoot single-game results as Mourinho, which is why Spurs will be full of confidence regardless of which Manchester club they meet at Wembley in the spring.
Taking our attention away from the EFL Cup for a while, Tottenham’s relatively easy draws in the FA Cup and Europa League also seem to suggest the portents for 2021 are good.
In the first case, they will face a non-league Marine next week. The Liverpool-based Lilywhites are a part-time team, not one of those near-professional teams that reside at the Conference. Make no mistake, if Spurs fail to make it through to the fourth round against the eighth-place minnows it will be one of the most shocking results in English football history.
Meanwhile, in the Europe League, they had another preferable tie, this time against Wolfsberger – an Austrian Bundesliga side currently languishing in the middle of the table and the lowest team in the competition.
While Tottenham is probably still just about in an unpredictable national title race, their quest for silver may well be aided by their rivals focusing on other priorities when it comes to the time of crisis; in April, Man City or Man Utd could give a final push in the Premier League, while the same goes for all of the so-called “Big Six” and tougher European opponents such as Milan and Ajax during the FA Cup and the Europa League the finals take place in May.
Put simply, those two draws were the easiest games Spurs could have hoped for. Luck? Or, a sign that 2021 will be the year of the rooster?
Whatever it is, that luck, combined with their managers’ perverse obsession with winning unattainable victories, is a powerful cocktail for success in cup competitions. In other words, it might be time for rival fans to start brewing insults other than the ones that focus on collecting dust on Spurs’ trophy cabinet.