Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will face off in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday, hoping to inch closer to next month’s final.

The Carabao Cup resumes for the first time in 2022 with its penultimate stage, with four matches across the next week set to determine the two finalists. The first of these encounters will be the first leg of the semi-finals between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, with the London rivals set to take on each other at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Chelsea have had to slog it out to make it to the Carabao Cup semi-finals. The Blues needed penalty shootout wins over Aston Villa and Southampton to reach the quarter-finals, where they beat Brentford 2-0 to set up the contest with Tottenham. As for Spurs, their route to the semi-finals has been equally tricky, as they have clinched close wins over Wolves, Burnley and West Ham United to reach the penultimate stage.

Chelsea’s recent form has been anything but positive, as they have won just three of their last nine games across all competitions. Their previous two matches have ended in a stalemate, including the 2-2 draw with Liverpool this past weekend. On the other hand, Tottenham have been unbeaten in domestic competitions since Antonio Conte took charge of the team, with their most recent result a 1-0 win over Watford.

Chelsea and Tottenham have already locked horns once this season, with the Blues beating their local rivals 3-0 in September, courtesy of goals from Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel has a new roster issue hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Tottenham Hotspur. In the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday, the Chelsea manager could be bereft of the services of six first-team players.

The latest absentee is Edouard Mendy, who will be out for the foreseeable future as he is in Cameroon representing Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. Reece James (hamstring), Ben Chilwell (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (hamstring) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle) are on the sidelines, with Timo Werner’s availability up in the air as well.

However, Romelu Lukaku is back in contention to feature after being omitted by Tuchel against Liverpool due to disciplinary action in the wake of a controversial interview. The Belgian striker should spearhead the Chelsea attack against Tottenham, with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic joining him in the final third.

The game could offer Tuchel a chance to give Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante a breather, with Ross Barkley likely to start alongside Jorginho in the middle of the park. The duo should be flanked by the two wing-backs, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso.

Malang Sarr will get a rare chance to impress at the back, with the youngster joining Antonio Rudiger and captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the central defensive unit. Finally, there is no looking past Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, with the Spaniard getting nearly a month of uninterrupted action in Mendy’s absence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Sarr; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Barkley, Alonso; Ziyech, Pulisic; Lukaku

Tottenham Hotspur

Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Antonio Conte has not lost any of his players for the Africa Cup of Nations. On Wednesday, the Tottenham Hotspur boss will be missing three first-team players due to various fitness issues.

Cristian Romero (hamstring), Ryan Sessegnon (muscle injury), and Steven Bergwijn (calf) are all inching closer to their returns. However, the game against Chelsea has come too soon for the trio, and they will only be available for the next round of Premier League fixtures.

Hugo Lloris will take his place in goal ahead of Pierluigi Gollini, with Tottenham lining up in a 3-4-3 formation in front of him. The central defensive unit will likely consist of Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies.

Up ahead in midfield, the onus will be on Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to keep a lid on Hakim Ziyech’s output. The two central midfielders will likely be flanked by Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon, with the duo being tasked with providing accurate deliveries from the wings.

As for the attacking unit, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are certainties for Tottenham against Chelsea, with Bryan Gil likely to join the two Spurs stalwarts in the final third. Lucas Moura will be an impact substitute, and he could be a key player later in the game.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Lloris; Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies; Emerson, Winks, Hojbjerg, Reguilon; Gil, Kane, Son

Key Stats

  • Wednesday’s tie will be the eighth different League Cup tie between Chelsea and Tottenham, and fourth to take place in the competition’s semi-finals – no sides have met in the final four of the League Cup more often. Chelsea have progressed from/won four of their previous seven League Cup ties against Tottenham, including two of the last three semi-final meetings between the pair (1971/72 and 2018/19).
  • Since winning three games in a row against Chelsea between 2018 and 2019, Tottenham are winless in their last eight against the Blues in all competitions (D2 L6).
  • Chelsea have progressed from five of their last seven League Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2012/13 (vs Swansea City) and 2017/18 (vs Arsenal) in this run. On the other hand, Tottenham have progressed from six of their last eight League Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2006/07 (vs Arsenal) and 2018/19 (vs Chelsea) in this streak.
  • Chelsea have only failed to score in two of their last 18 home games in the League Cup, netting 48 goals in total. However, both of these failures came in the home leg of a semi-final tie (0-2 vs Swansea in 2012/13 and 0-0 vs Arsenal in 2017/18).
  • After failing to score in his first eight League Cup appearances, Tottenham’s Lucas Moura netted the winning goals in both their fourth round and quarter-final victories this season.

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

Embed from Getty Images

Just when you think Romelu Lukaku is finding some semblance of continuity and consistency, some controversy or the other manages to peg him back. This time around, the big Belgian striker has no one else but himself to blame, as his comments from a recent interview have left many, including Thomas Tuchel, irked.

Chelsea subsequently sidelined Lukaku for the big game against Liverpool this past weekend, and pundits have been quick to lambast him. Now back in contention to feature for Chelsea, Lukaku will hope to let his game do the talking and inspire the Blues to get closer to the Carabao Cup final. Can he put the distractions behind him? Only time will tell.

Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Neither side has been particularly fluent in the final third lately. And the game on Wednesday could well be a tentative affair between two sides that will be keen on not conceding too many goals and let the tie slip before it even reaches the second leg.

It should pave the way for a riveting yet frustrating outing for both Chelsea and Tottenham, with very little likely to separate them. In the end, Son Heung-min and Romelu Lukaku should be on target, with the London rivals playing out a 1-1 draw, leaving everything to be decided in next week’s second leg.

2 Responses to “Chelsea vs Tottenham Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. Jona okon James says:

    I didn’t like that midfield players

  2. Olamide says:

    Let Diet replace taganga

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