The last time that Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers gave the FA Cup quarterfinal thing a go they were derailed by one of the saddest and scariest moments anyone has ever seen on a football pitch. Fabrice Muamba collapsed to the field at White Hart Lane just before halftime and was rushed to the hospital essentially dead. The match was abandoned and everything looked dire, but things have only gotten better since.
Muamba is in the midst of an amazing recovery, now responsive, eating and watching TV. Tottenham are also doing better, having broken out of their slump on Saturday with a key point at Stamford Bridge and Bolton won beat Blackburn to move out of the relegation zone. When Muamba went down, it was scary and that hasn't changed, but it is not nearly as sad right now. Thankfully, everything is looking up on both sides.
Today, Spurs and Bolton will return to the pitch at White Hart Lane and the FA Cup semifinals will be on the line again. Wembley, and a match against Chelsea, is waiting one for one of these teams.
For Spurs, the FA Cup is serious business. They are still in a race for fourth and getting to the Champions League is of the utmost importance, but the chance of lifting a trophy is especially tantalizing for Harry Redknapp, who wants to win the cup for the second time.
"It (the FA Cup) is a big thing for us, definitely,'' said Redknapp "I'd be bitterly disappointed if we didn't make the semi-final now. We want Champions League football but also I want an FA Cup final. I want to win the cup and qualify for the Champions League as well. That's the aim.''
So Harry and his crew are going for it, which means the first team is going to get a run out. The key to all of that will be Scott Parker. Yes, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale have been played out of position in the last six weeks and yes, the forwards have not been finishing, but those issues have gotten plenty of talk. The dip in Parker's form has not, but it's been arguably as important as the others.
in Spurs' rush to "title contender," Parker was sensational. He cut out just about every foray forward by opponents and his runs forward, if not always pretty, at least caused havoc for the defense. He hasn't been near the same player and Spurs have looked vulnerable as a result. If Parker can get back to form, and he showed signs of it on Saturday, then Spurs are in the driver's seat for not just today, but the entire competition.
The last time that Spurs and Bolton were at White Hart Lane they didn't even get a half in. Muamba is doing better than anyone could have imagined, but returning to the same pitch to play the same team could be a bit of a shock to the players, especially Bolton's. It could also be a boost. Who knows and as crass or odd as it may seem, the stakes are still the same. Wembley is looming.