Sheffield United v Tottenham: Clough expects fired-up Spurs for second leg
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough expects a Tottenham side on "high alert" to arrive at Bramall Lane on Wednesday desperate to avoid a second cup upset in five days.
Spurs make the trip to south Yorkshire looking to protect a 1-0 lead following the League Cup semi-final first leg between the two clubs last week.
But Mauricio Pochettino's men are smarting after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Leicester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Tottenham's exit was one of a number of shock results on a fourth-round weekend that saw League One side Bradford City win 4-2 at Premier League leaders Chelsea, Manchester City beaten 2-0 at home by Middlesbrough and Cambridge United force a replay against Manchester United.
While Clough and his United players can take heart from the exploits of the likes of Bradford – who also reached the League Cup final in 2013 – he is wary of being on the receiving end of a potential backlash.
Clough said: "I read some quotes from Bradford players saying the Friday night game, where Cambridge drew 0-0 at home against Manchester United, a brilliant performance and result, gave them inspiration and belief.
"And we are going to try to use this weekend for the same sort of motivation.
"But the other side of that is that it will have put Spurs on high alert - if last Wednesday didn't already - as lower-league teams can cause you a problem [as a top-flight team]."
As Clough is quick to point out, United – eighth in League One – held their own in the first encounter before Andros Townsend netted the game's only goal from the penalty spot following Jay McEveley's needless handball.
Tottenham made wholesale changes against Leicester and Clough added: "I think the team that Spurs put out, having rested nine players from the Wednesday game, showed maybe that their priority is on this semi-final.
"I think when you're 90 minutes away from a major cup final that has to be the priority.
"I think a lot of people probably expected that the tie would be over after the first leg. Spurs having [recently] put five past Chelsea, four past Burnley, are more than capable of doing that at White Hart Lane.
"But the fact that it is only 1-0 has got everybody up for it and believing. It's still going to be an incredibly tough ask, but it's possible."
Clough himself made eight changes as United drew 1-1 at Preston North End in the FA Cup, in order to rest key members of his "shattered" squad following the first leg.
It is Townsend's composed spot-kick that separates the sides and he expects his Tottenham team-mates to rally following the Leicester setback and reach the club's first Wembley showpiece since losing on penalties to Manchester United in the 2009 League Cup final.
The midfielder said: "Wednesday is a massive game and hopefully we can put the smiles back on the faces of everyone associated with the club.
"That is what everyone is focused on doing and putting the FA Cup defeat behind us. The character is there, everyone has seen the amount of times we've come back in games this season from goals down in the last minute."