A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s League Cup semi final first leg away to Tottenham Hotspur.
Tuesday evening sees Chelsea travel to Wembley for their first leg of this season’s League Cup semi final against Tottenham Hotspur. It is a top level, bitter match up with the winner being just 1 final step from lifting this season’s first trophy.
Both clubs will be desperate to progress as it not only means getting the better of a key rival and the psychological boost that can provide, but the most important statistic that separates these clubs is their relative trophy haul. Spurs have not won a leading competition since 2008, when they beat Chelsea in the final of this competition.
Meanwhile, The Blues have enjoyed multiple successes, winning the full range of trophies available, including their last triumph in this competition in 2015. That is with one exception. Maurizio Sarri is yet to win a major competition in his managerial career and joined Chelsea to rectify this statistic.
Mauricio Pochettino will be without Lucas Moura, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, while Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min, Deli Alli and Harry Kane are all expected to start. Paulo Gazzaniga replaces Hugo Lloris in goal, with the Frenchman on the bench.
Maurizio Sarri has a longer injury list. However Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud are all back in training and are expected to be available to help from the substitute’s bench. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is definitely out after tweaking his back and could be out for a number of weeks.
The Italian is also without Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater, but Mateo Kovacic is now fully fit and could well start ahead of Ross Barkley in midfield alongside N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.
But it is in attack that the manager is very limited in options. We can expect to see a front line of Alvaro Morata, flanked by Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The youngster was the difference between the sides over the weekend as The Blues got the better of a tiring Championship side Nottingham Forest in the second half.
As always though, the line up is only part of the story. When Chelsea played away to Spurs in the Premier League back on 24 November, the hosts coasted in to a comfortable 3-0 lead and Sarri will be very aware that the aptitude of his team will be paramount if they are to not suffer a repeat.
As the manager stated in his prematch press conference, his team must first match the desire of their opponents. They will need to approach the match in another way because they were more aggressive than us and more determined than us last time.
Spurs will once again be a very tough opponent and they now go in to matches against The Blues with the belief that they can come out on top.
Chelsea will need to ensure that they are at least the same level of application and determination of their hosts to prevent themselves being blown away in the early stages. Surely the longer this tie goes with The Blues still in contention, the more likely a chance they have of reaching the final.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @CitheroeBlue