Never wise to count one’s chickens, but Tottenham Hotspur was likely pleased to draw League One side Morecambe — at home — in the Third Round of the FA Cup. With a looming League Cup semifinals second leg set for Wednesday, followed by (now) three massive league fixtures the following week, there was simply no room to add in another high-stakes match.
As is the intention of the FA Cup, Spurs have seen plenty of lower-tier sides in recent years. Last season’s was the club’s famous visit to Marine and three years ago it was League One’s Tranmere Rovers. The spirit (and magic) of the cup is always fun, but Antonio Conte and company are likely looking to just see this one through.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Morecambe
Date: Sunday, January 9
Time: 9:00 am ET, 2:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Sports 2 (UK)
The Shrimps currently sit 19th (of 24) in League One and should not provide a big challenge. Spurs are coming off a couple of questionable performances, but the context is certainly much different. There remains the age old question of how much the club should even want to compete for cups, but this is not the type of opponent that requires much debate in that regard.
Accordingly, Conte should see this as an opportunity to get his fringe options some real minutes. Last Wednesday saw the rare Tanguy Ndombele-Giovanni Lo Celso midfield pairing for a bit, and both should start if available alongside players such as Bryan Gil and the struggling Japhet Tanganga. Sides are never as rotated as supporters desire them to be, but there are some obvious choices for Sunday.
- This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides. Morecambe earned its first ever promotion to League One last season and are fighting to stay up, though that may go down to the wire. It does feel a little less special hosting these sort of matches, though it probably is the better option for the players.
- Conte, of course, won the 2017/18 FA Cup in his second season with Chelsea. It is not exactly clear how much he will prioritize this competition, though a lot will probably come down to how matches and opponents slot into the already busy schedule. Odds are the hunt for the top four will be on the forefront for most of the winter and spring.
- Should the first 90 minutes go poorly and the teams end up even, there will not be a replay. Both the Third and Fourth Rounds will feature extra time and penalties following regular time. Probably for the best with so many fixtures already having to be postponed and rescheduled with more likely on the way.