Tottenham’s youngsters have earned themselves the right to face Liverpool at Anfield, says Mauricio Pochettino, after a team containing five debutants brushed aside League One opposition with the minimum of fuss.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, Anton Walkes, Marcus Edwards and Georges-Kévin Nkoudou all made their first appearances while midfielder Harry Winks made his full debut for the club in a match that was one-sided from start to finish. The draw for the fourth round now takes Spurs to Merseyside and their manager said he is ready to trust his fresh faces again.
“Why not play our young players?”, he said. “It will be a great experience for them. It’s true that Liverpool are not involved in Europe so maybe they will take the game in a different way to us. But for us we are in a different process. The young players have the quality to impress and are very important for Tottenham for our identity.”
It is easy to understand Pochettino’s confidence when the game was dictated by players who may not have been making their debuts but could hardly be called veterans. Christian Eriksen and Érik Lamela are both only 24 but had too much composure and ability for the side coached by Justin Edinburgh, who won the League Cup with Spurs himself in 1999.
Eriksen, playing in his preferred No10 position and celebrating a new contract extension with Spurs, was in his element and opened the scoring on the half hour. The visitors had been forced to change their goalkeeper after an injury to Jonathan Bond, but his replacement Stuart Nelson could do nothing about the goal. Perhaps mesmerised by Spurs’s metronomic passing, the defence stood off Eriksen for just the briefest of moments, but that was enough time for him to lash a swerving shot under the bar from 25 yards.
Spurs failed to add to their advantage before half-time but didn’t hang about after the restart. Eriksen doubled the lead in the 47th minute, coolly tucking home after another assist from Lamela, this time after a driving run right through the heart of the visitors’ midfield. Two minutes later and it was three. Kieran Trippier, who impressed at right-back, was again causing havoc on the right and was brought down in the box by Deji Oshilaja. Janssen hungrily grabbed the ball and hit the spot-kick low into the corner to score his first goal in a Spurs shirt.
Bought from AZ Alkmaar for £17m to ease the striking burden on Harry Kane, the Dutchman is needed immediately now that the England forward is out with an ankle ligament injury. Janssen’s form up until now has been unimpressive and here he missed three highly presentable chances in the first half alone. Scoring the penalty might be a monkey off his back, however, and Pochettino said he was glad the Dutchman had taken the kick.
“The goal was important for him”, he said. “He is going to be our main striker for the next few games. I said before the game that whoever has the most confidence can try to shoot [the penalty]. I think it was important for him to feel the love from the supporters.”
Lamela claimed a hat-trick of assists when he played in 19-year-old Josh Onomah to score his first goal for the club, a deft finish inside the post. A couple of minutes later Janssen showed his confidence was already up, laying a deft touch off to Lamela who claimed a goal for himself, caressing the ball across the box and beyond Nelson.
Edinburgh found himself torn between disappointment at the result and being impressed at the strength of his old club. “First and foremost the manager is a class act,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but admiration and they’re showing signs of being a team I never experienced here. They certainly have a chance of being successful. They’ve got some really exciting young players and the future’s bright for a lot of people, but obviously I didn’t want it to be that way tonight.”