It’s back to back cup games for Chelsea and Tottenham, as they meet in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Wembley on Tuesday night.
The Carabao Cup has reached its penultimate stage, with four clubs remaining in the competition. The only thing that remains certain is that a club from the capital will be vying for the title, with Chelsea and Tottenham locking horns in one of the semi-finals – the first leg will be played at Wembley on Tuesday.
Tottenham progressed to the semi-finals by beating fierce North London rivals Arsenal 2-0 at Emirates last month, having also beaten fellow sides from the capital in previous rounds, Watford and West Ham United. Their form heading into Tuesday’s clash is quite promising, with Wolves the only side managing to beat them in their last 10 games.
Chelsea, on the other hand, beat Bournemouth 1-0 on their way to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, and a similar pattern has ensued all through their campaign. The Blues have only managed odd-goal wins thus far in the Carabao Cup, with goalscoring a major concern for Maurizio Sarri, ahead of the meeting against Spurs.
The two sides have already locked horns once this season, with Tottenham cruising to a 3-1 win over Chelsea in a Premier League tie back in November 2018. Ahead of the latest installation of the famed London rivalry, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Carabao Cup fixture.
Team News & Tactics
It’s one player off the treatment table and one player on it for Mauricio Pochettino, whose injury woes are showing no signs of easing. Ahead of Chelsea’s visit on Tuesday, the Tottenham boss is without six first-team players, which is quite an alarming number with games coming thick and fast.
Lucas Moura is the latest player to be sidelined, after the Brazilian picked up a knee injury in the 7-0 win over Tranmere Rovers last weekend. The likes of Jan Vertonghen (thigh), Victor Wanyama (knee), Eric Dier (appendicitis), Mousa Dembele (ankle) and Vincent Janssen (foot) remain unavailable as well, although each of them are nearing their return.
There is some good news though, with Erik Lamela returning to training after recovering from a bout of illness. But, the Argentine is unlikely to start, with Pochettino sticking with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane as his attacking quartet.
While Kane’s quality is unmistakable, Son has emerged as the biggest threat for Tottenham in the last couple of months. Alli is on a road to resurgence, while Eriksen remains the creator-in-chief for Spurs. In midfield, Moussa Sissoko has overcome his struggles and is now well and truly an asset for Pochettino.
Giving the energetic Frenchman company in the pivot, should be Harry Winks, whose tenacity ought to help against Eden Hazard. At the back, Pochettino has an array of superstars available to him, but with Ben Davies, Serge Aurier and Juan Foyth playing the entire 90 minutes, Pochettino is likely to exclude the trio.
The back four should thus, feature Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose, while the Tottenham boss has confirmed that Paulo Gazzaniga will start in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose; Winks, Sissoko; Son, Alli, Eriksen; Kane
Maurizio Sarri has a number of pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations for the short trip to Wembley. Against Tottenham on Tuesday, the Chelsea boss could be without as many as seven first-team players, although most of them are touch and go.
Those who will definitely miss out are Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back), Marco van Ginkel (knee) and Cesc Fabregas (cramp). Fabregas though, was unlikely to play anyway after what was believed to be his farewell game for Chelsea against Nottingham Forest last weekend, ahead of a move to AS Monaco.
Meanwhile, the likes of Willian (calf), Pedro (hamstring), Olivier Giroud (ankle) and Mateo Kovacic (illness) are facing a race against time to be fit for the crunch tie against Tottenham. But, the quartet is unlikely to start, with Sarri confirming that they are still building up their fitness.
All things considered, it looks likely that Callum Hudson-Odoi will start again, especially after he proved his credentials on both flanks in a man-of-the-match performance against Nottingham Forest. Hudson-Odoi should feature on the right side of the Chelsea attack, with Eden Hazard starting on the opposite flank.
Upfront, Alvaro Morata should be Chelsea’s striker after netting a confidence-boosting brace against Forest. In midfield, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are likely to return, with Ross Barkley giving them company in Kovacic’s absence.
At the back, David Luiz has become an ever present, and the Brazilian should be joined by Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso, while Kepa Arrizabalaga is likely to start in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Hudson-Odoi, Morata, Hazard
- This is the ninth Carabao Cup match between Tottenham and Chelsea, and the first since the 2015 final. In the previous eight meetings, Spurs have won two, Chelsea have won four with two games ending in a draw.
- Tottenham have won their last two matches against Chelsea, both in the Premier League. Spurs haven’t won three in a row against their London rivals in all competitions since a run of five between March 1961 and September 1963.
- Chelsea have qualified for the Carabao Cup final on four of the previous five occasions they have played the first leg away from home, despite winning just one of those games (D2 L2).
- Chelsea – who have already lost to Tottenham at Wembley in the Premier League this season – could become just the second team to lose twice against the same opponent at Wembley in a single campaign after Sheffield Wednesday who lost the Carabao Cup final and an FA Cup final replay to Arsenal in 1992-93.
- Dele Alli has scored more goals against Chelsea (6) than he has against any other opponent in all competitions during his career. The English international has also netted four goals in his last five Carabao Cup appearances for Tottenham.
Player to Watch
Chelsea created quite a splash when they signed promising youngster Christian Pulisic last week. But, it is the future of another youngster in their own ranks which is sending fans into a frenzy. Callum Hudson-Odoi is the latest Chelsea academy product who has gone through the frustrations of barely getting any game time with the first-team.
But, the performance against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup has Maurizio Sarri singing his praise, with the manager even confirming that he is ready for a bigger role in the squad. So, while his suitors continue to increase, now is the time for Hudson-Odoi to make his chances count at Chelsea. And, who knows, the Blues might just end up keeping hold of him.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Chelsea
Tottenham continue to be drawn against fellow London sides in the Carabao Cup, and their latest opponents are Chelsea, who aren’t going through the best of times lately. Yes, they were the first side to beat Manchester City this season, but the struggles to score goals has left fans and Maurizio Sarri frustrated to no end.
The Blues are not the best of sides on the defensive front either, and Tottenham should exploit their weaknesses on Tuesday, as they have already this season. Chelsea should have their chances, especially with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Eden Hazard running riot on the two flanks.
But, their inability to provide the finishing touches clinically will prove to be their undoing in the end, especially with the likes of Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli being in fine form on the other end. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Tottenham, to take the lead in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea.