By Chris Harris
Two-nil up and cruising against the old enemy. Tottenham fans were grinning from ear to ear after Martin Jol's side took a firm grip on last week's Carling Cup clash with Arsenal. Then Arsenal wiped the smiles off their faces.
Julio Baptista's double pegged Tottenham back, secured two potentially vital away goals and gave Arsenal a slight edge ahead of tonight's decisive leg. Spurs will probably need to inflict Arsenal's first defeat at Emirates Stadium to avoid a Cup exit at the hands of their local rivals.
James Callow of the Tottenham Journal was in the press box for last week's pulsating game at White Hart Lane. We asked him for a Tottenham perspective of events ahead of this evening's eagerly-awaited second leg.
James, what are your reflections on the 2-2 draw?
In a way it was the definitive Spurs game. You just knew that something bad was going to happen and in the end it was worse than expected. Arsenal started slowly, perhaps that was down to having Diaby on the left, it's a lot of upheaval to make so many changes. Berbatov was outstanding in the early stages but he was only on for a short time. It upset Spurs a lot when he went off but then again they still had chances and looked dangerous going forward.
Was Keane the right choice to replace the injured Berbatov?
Some people wondered whether Keane was the right player to come on when Berbatov was injured. Mido was the alternative but he possibly wasn't completely fit. With Keane on it totally changed the way Tottenham play. Keane will always drop deep whereas Berbatov will win the ball and bring it down, so if it's whacked forward there is immediate pressure on the centre halves.
Why were Spurs less dynamic in the second half?
It's difficult to say how much that was down to Martin Jol's tactics, but generally speaking Tottenham did not have the defensive ability to keep Arsenal at bay. Spurs always looked like conceding so perhaps it would have been better for them to try and attack. They conceded the initiative and Arsenal started to play better. Cesc Fabregas was the dominant player on the pitch and Emmanuel Eboue caused a lot of problems when he came on.
Do you think Spurs have a complex about Arsenal after so long without beating them?
One of the players - Jermaine Jenas - has said they definitely do not have a complex about Arsenal but it might be different for the fans because the atmosphere changed in the second half. It became so edgy, the fans would panic if for example a ball wasn't cleared and that must spread to the players to some extent.
How much would it mean for them to win tonight?
Well, Spurs would have taken a Cup Final at the start of the season and it would mean a huge amount to the fans if Tottenham were the first team to beat Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, especially in the Semi Final. They would take great satisfaction from that.
Who is likely to line up for Tottenham tonight?
Berbatov and King are out. I think Ricardo Rocha will probably play instead of Gardner. I have only seen him play against Southend in the FA Cup, he's a man marker, he likes a bit of a tussle, he's not exceptionally tall and is more of a reader of the game. He's not brilliant in the air but he might not be tested too much in that respect tonight. He could well be a decent signing for Tottenham but it's too early to tell.
How will Martin Jol approach the game tactically?
Jol has an interesting decision to make up front. If Mido comes in for Berbatov then Spurs might not need to change their approach from the way they started the first leg. Bringing Mido in would allow them to maintain their shape because he is similar to Berbatov in style. Keane is possibly more reliable - Mido can blow hot and cold - but Tottenham would have to adopt a more considered approach because Keane drops deeper to collect possession.
Do Spurs have 'nothing to lose' now?
People have said but they could lose the chance to get into a Cup Final so I don't go along with that. It's hard to predict what will happen. They could get caught in two minds over whether to be cautious or take risks, and if that happens they might get done like they did at Emirates Stadium in December. I think Tottenham will go out with a fairly neutral mindset and try to win the game as they did last week.
What is your prediction for tonight?
I think Arsenal will go through. I would surprised if Spurs win but not completely shocked. In a funny way the game has turned around. Spurs have been backed into a corner and they know exactly what is expected of them. They are underdogs and I think that might suit them more than being 2-1 up because then they might concede the initiative. It's a fine margin.
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 31 Jan 2007