Spurs crush silverware hopes early as Tottenham bow out of the EFL Cup against Fulham

Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

Tottenham became the first Premier League club to be knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier this week, losing on the road to Fulham at Craven Cottage on Tuesday. A 1-1 draw after 90 minutes meant the cup clash would be decided from the penalty spot, and it did not fare well for the club from North London. Spurs lost the PK shootout 5-3, ending their cup run in only the second round.

Still being undefeated in league games, the hype around Tottenham and their new manager, Ange Postecoglou, was at an all-time high going into Tuesday’s matchup. With no European football for the Lillywhites this season, you would think the club would put their best foot forward in one of only two non-EPL competitions, right? Wrong.

The Australian rotated his starting lineup a bit, allowing some second-team/bench players to get some much-needed playing time in hopes of impressing “Big Ange.” With all the excitement about the new-look squad and the exciting style of play being implemented, we have to ask: What went wrong?

Let’s start with the lineup choices. A few names that haven’t seen much (if any) action yet this season, like Davison Sanchez and Gio Lo Celso, got the nod to start for the first time under their new gaffer. Personally, I understand the need to rotate the outfield players to allow your starters to rest and recover, especially for a mid-week game with another road test coming on Saturday. The choice I’ve never understood, especially in a single-elimination cup game, is plugging in the backup goalkeeper.

For Tottenham, that is 35-year-old Fraser Forster, who looked every bit of a 65-years-old between the posts on Tuesday. The Englishman had one of the worst showings in a penalty shootout I’ve seen in all my days of watching football, not coming remotely close to all five of Fulham’s attempts, basically handing them a victory to advance in the tournament. Forster finished the initial 90 minutes, saving all three of Fulham’s shots that were on target but arguably (in my opinion) had the most to do with Tottenham’s defeat.

Sanchez was absolutely abysmal throughout the entire 90 minutes, giving up countless chances and allowing Fulham attackers to advance right through him. Sanchez was also selected to take the third penalty in the shootout (What are you thinking, Ange?!), which resulted in an easy save for the Fulham keeper. With transfer rumors swirling around the Colombian CB, I think after that performance, many Spurs fans won’t have a problem sending the club veteran elsewhere.

According to a tweet from Argentinian reporter Gaston Edul, Gio Lo Celso will be staying at the club after being told he is in Postecoglou’s plans for the future. The former Villarreal & Real Betis man was given the start on Tuesday but struggled to impact the game. The Argentina national team member was pulled after only 45 minutes at the halftime break for young striker Dane Scarlett, who saw his first action of the year as well.

Even though the hype around the club was palpable, once the starting lineup was released before the matchup, it seemed to worry Spurs fans. Even with second-half substitutions of Son, Maddison, Kulusevski, and Sarr, the Lillywhites were unable to come away with a victory.

In terms of play, Spurs looked to be controlling the game in the early stages, moving the ball well and trying to force men upfield in attack. Any momentum gained came to a screeching halt in the 19th minute when newcomer Micky Van de Ven accidentally deflected a low cross from the left side of Fulham’s attack, which found its way past Forster and resulted in an own goal for the Dutch defender.

Fulham really adjusted their game once going up 1-0, becoming more compact at the back and trying to keep the game in front of them. Tottenham was giving all they could in their attack but couldn’t find an equalizer going into the halftime whistle. That was until “the pigeon” struck for his first goal of the young season.

Brazilian striker Richarlison, who is slated to be Harry Kane’s replacement up top unless a late signing is made, levelled the game for Spurs in the 56th minute. Known for his iconic goal celebration, the 26-year-old finally found the mark in what Tottenham fans are hoping will be the first of many this season. Richy’s equalizer had the game in a 1-1 stalemate that lasted until the full-time whistle.

In the Carabao Cup, any ties go straight to penalties to decide a winner. I already touched on how dreadful Forster’s performance in PKs was, and only one mistake from Sanchez at the spot was all Fulham needed to take control of the shootout and eventually advance.

Tottenham players and coaching staff will need to have a short memory, with another tough road matchup against Burnley scheduled for Saturday. Hopefully, with the correct lineup and Vicario back in net, Spurs can claim all three points at Turf Moor and continue their unbeaten streak in the EPL.