Tranmere v Tottenham Hotspur: A Potential FA Cup Upset?
The FA cup is the pinnacle of the English game. Being the oldest association trophy in the game itself, the competition has thrown up numerous upsets. It’s one of the reasons fans love the FA Cup so much. It gives the supporters of lower league clubs the chance to watch their heroes battle against the best in the country.
An example of this almost manic excitement is evident in Merseyside. Not in the city of Liverpool, however. This excitement lies across the river, on the Wirral, home of Tranmere Rovers Football Club. The League Two club are enjoying their return to the football league after winning the National League play-off final at Tottenham’s current ground, Wembley. By doing this, they ended a three-year exile from the Football League. With their return to the EFL comes a hope of glory in its main competition, which they previously had to qualify for.
Tranmere v Tottenham may not seem like the most entertaining fixture for the neutral, but try telling that to any Tranmere fan this week. The fixture has sold out and the home of the Rovers, Prenton Park, will be at its full 14,500 capacity. This alone could be a factor in the potential banana skin for Spurs. The stadium itself is small and has a good atmosphere. The fans are metres away from the players and with the magnitude of the fixture galvanising them, the noise will be deafening. The Tottenham players will have to be at peak focus to remain calm and deal with the roar of their Merseyside opposition.
Meet The Teams
Of course, there is a huge gulf in quality between the two sides. Spurs are currently sitting in third in England’s top tier while Tranmere are ninth in the fourth tier. Tottenham have within their ranks some of the world’s best. Amongst them are England’s star men Kane and Dele Alli, as well as European talents such as Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele. Whilst it is likely that most, if not all, of these players will be rested for the tie, the quality within the side is incredible. Tranmere have a few players whom Spurs should worry about, however. Striker James Norwood has 16 goals in the league this season, which is the joint-highest across the entire Football League. As well as their star striker, Tranmere have a midfield maestro in Ollie Banks who, if back from injury, could play a huge role in masterminding the upset of the weekend on Friday.
Micky Mellon, the Tranmere manager who captained his side in the 2004 quarter-finals of this competition, will be hoping to outfox his Argentinian counterpart on Friday, thus adding to his already huge base of support he has within the Wirral club. A win for Tranmere would be one of the biggest cup upsets in recent years. Spurs should not underestimate their League Two opposition. Pochettino has to make a big decision when it comes to his line-up. With a Premier League title challenge on the cards, as well as fighting now on four fronts, how seriously will he take the FA Cup?
On the face of things, the game should be a routine cup fixture for Spurs. However, Tranmere have a rich history of cup upsets. They defeated Southampton 4-3 after being 3-0 down in 2001. They also beat their Merseyside neighbours Everton 3-0 in the same season. Fortune favours the brave and with the magic of the FA Cup.