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Football Whispers
 By Tony Evans

A cup victory over Chelsea would cap off Tottenham's brilliant season

Little things tell you a lot in football. Tottenham Hotspur are in a title race, four points behind Chelsea in the Premier League with six games to go. There is also an FA Cup semifinal against the same team on the horizon.

Their latest victory, a 4-0 rout of Bournemouth, made it seven consecutive wins in the league, a run of results that have been characterized by the team's relentless power, fine defence and clinical finishing. Yet it is the little things that let you know that this is a side that thinks they can win the Double.

They celebrate goals with elaborate, rather juvenile handshakes. They linger in group hugs after surrounding a goalscorer. They smile a lot. Mauricio Pochettino bounces around on the sidelines as if he was a born-and-bred north Londoner, feeling the agony of every near miss and exploding with pleasure when his boys come out on top.

They look like a gang of kids playing the game for fun. They are having a great time. Football is a joy for Tottenham.

Something special has been happening at White Hart Lane since Pochettino arrived three years ago. A dynasty has been developing. The next month should underline this.

Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
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Morale is high in the squad. Players are not fixated on their own performance but are willing to subvert their own game for the team if necessary. Jose Mourinho used to talk about creating a "Band of Brothers" ethos. Spurs have it. Vincent Janssen could have become a sullen and lonely figure after struggling to score goals since arriving at the club last summer. Yet when the former Ajax striker scored his first Premier League goal against Bournemouth, the pleasure his teammates took from the moment was palpable. Janssen is no outsider.

Tottenham's resilience will be tested in the coming days. Chelsea were out-thought and outplayed by Manchester United in their 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford. Antonio Conte will ensure that there will be no repeat of that display at Wembley in the semifinal or in any of the remaining league matches.

A year ago, Spurs were chasing down Leicester City at the top of the Premier League and imploded. They crumbled under the intense pressure of a title race and their immaturity was exposed by Eden Hazard and Co. on a fractious night at Stamford Bridge. Conte's team will unearth any weaknesses that lurk in Tottenham's psyche. Pochettino's men are more battle hardened now but questions will remain until they win big games.

Spurs need to prove that they can cope with playing at Wembley. Their record at the stadium has been awful in the Champions League and Europa League. Next season it will be their base while White Hart Lane is rebuilt. It has been no home away from home. Their European adventures at Wembley verged on shambolic. The were comprehensively beaten by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, drew against a substandard Gent and only beat CSKA Moscow in a meaningless tie after they had been knocked out of the Champions League. At the moment it looks like Pochettino's bogey ground.

Players like Dele Alli have bought into Mauricio Pochettino's philosophy at Tottenham.

The contrast with their performances at the Lane are stark. They have scored the most goals (43) and conceded the fewest (eight) at home of any Premier League team. A win against Chelsea in the semifinal would provide significant reassurance.

Tottenham go into the cup tie in a buoyant mood. There is much to be confident about. Their best players are signed to long-term contracts and are unlikely to have their heads turned in the summer when some of Europe's biggest clubs will be sniffing around north London. By qualifying for the Champions League for the second time in succession they will ensure that the immediate future of the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli is secure.

They have moved on from the days where a brief, one-year appearance in Europe's most prestigious competition did little more than put Gareth Bale in the shop window. Spurs are no longer a selling club. They are being seen as a team that can go deep into the knockout phase of the Champions League next season. They are on the verge of joining the continent's elite.

The title is probably just out of Tottenham's reach. Winning a trophy would be a major staging post in their development. If they can hold their nerve and thrive under pressure at Wembley it would be a big sign that the fun will continue for Spurs for a long time.

It has been a very good few weeks for Jurgen Klopp. April looked like a tricky month for Liverpool with some awkward games against the sort of teams who can make life difficult for the Anfield side. The last two Premier League matches looked particularly difficult but the Reds won away at Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. Neither was a great performance but Klopp has often expressed the need to "win ugly."

Next up are Crystal Palace, this time in front of the Kop. Beating a Sam Allardyce team who will come to Anfield with a plan to squeeze the life out of Liverpool's attack would turn a good month into a great one. Victory over Palace would mean that Champions League football next season is within touching distance.

There is still plenty of work for Klopp to do to get Liverpool back to where they want to be but they are moving in the right direction.

Tony Adams appears to have become a figure of fun. The former Arsenal and England captain has taken over as coach of Granada until the end of the season and has been given the job of saving the La Liga club from relegation. The size of his task was underlined by the 3-0 defeat at home to Celta Vigo.

Film of Adams's first training session showed the 50-year-old showing the players a strange, dance-like shuffle. It created much amusement on social media. His demeanor on the sidelines at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes elicited more guffaws. It is unfair. Given the strength of Granada's squad it is hard to see how any manager could emerge from 90 minutes without looking frustrated and ridiculous.

Adams was one of the finest leaders English football has produced. He learnt his trade under George Graham -- one of the great defensive coaches -- and Arsene Wenger. If Adams does something on the training pitch it would be wiser to pay attention than to snigger. He is passionate about the game and has travelled across the world to expand his knowledge. When he talks about football it is worth listening.

Granada have more loan players in their first-team squad (13) than men employed by the club (12). More than half the entire playing staff in their three most senior squads will return to their parent teams in the summer. Most are killing time waiting for relegation. Adams has taken on a quixotic task but he is anything but a buffoon. It is too much to hope for but it would be lovely if a man who cares about the game so much could turn things around in Andalucia.

Tony Evans has been a sports journalist for more than 20 years. He writes for ESPN FC on the Premier League. Twitter: @tonyevans92a.


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