Manchester City confirmed their attendance last night in the Carabao Cup final on the 24th of February, with their crushing 10-0 aggregate win over League one side Burton Albion; our attention now turns towards the London derby taking place at Stamford Bridge tonight.
The league cup is often viewed with an air of negativity but for Chelsea and Spurs this competition provides a perfect opportunity for both club’s to claim a piece of silverware this season.
The 1st leg at Wembley finished 1-0 to Spurs courtesy of a Harry Kane VAR adjudged penalty.
Both sides have suffered defeat since the clash at Wembley two weeks ago, Spurs at ‘home’ to Manchester United and most recently Chelsea away to Arsenal.
The last five game form for both sides heading into this crucial match is as follows:
- Spurs W L W W W
- Chelsea L W L W D
We ran a poll yesterday on our Twitter (@LazyFanSports) to see who you think would make February’s final, here are the results:
Two of Lazy Fan’s football writers, Sol & James, have shared their thoughts on who they think will join Manchester City next month at Wembley.
James – Chelsea Fan
Predicted Chelsea lineup: Kepa, Azpilicueta (C), Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Willian, Pedro, Hazard Subs: Caballero, Ampadu, Christensen, Zappacosta Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud.
Since the 1st Leg
Following an offside, diving, incorrect VAR decision gifting Harry Kane and his team a first leg goal, Chelsea have it all to do to stop Spurs marching on to a final clash with the seemingly unstoppable Man City goal machine.
Chelsea, boosted by yesterday’s arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, should have no trouble getting motivated for one of the biggest events in a season, Spurs at the Bridge.
However Sarri, speaking out after the defeat to Arsenal, has stated the struggle he has motivating this group of players.
I’m sure any Chelsea fans like me, and anyone who has watched Chelsea this season, have worked out a few players he may be talking about. The likes of Willian and Alonso have shown a clear lack of effort this season and frustration appears to be growing with the pair from the Chelsea support.
As for the main culprit, it is undoubtably Alvaro Morata, who is expected to be departing Chelsea back to Spain imminently.
The swap of Morata for Higuain combined with the potential win against Spurs can hopefully kick some of the players back into gear moving forward for the rest of the season.
On the night
Although this fixture hasn’t been too kind to Chelsea in recent seasons. We should have every faith in beating what is a considerably weakened Spurs squad with the notable absentees of Kane, Alli and Son.
Having said that, Spurs do still pose a goal threat through the unmistakeable talent of Christian Eriksen and the high work rate and intensity possessed by Lucas and Lamela, should they feature.
By potentially playing Hazard in his clearly unfavored number 9 role receiving endless crosses from the wing-backs, only for them to be dominated in the air by the Spurs centre-back pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld.
I do however, feel Spurs lack real leadership with Kane’s injury and not to mention his usual goal threat, which will allow Chelsea to notch an early goal putting us in command of the tie.
Hopefully with David Luiz commanding the back line in place of Christensen, who seems shaky every time he steps on the field, a clean sheet will be in order – giving us a chance to beat City again and claim what would be a career first and potentially job saving piece of silverware for Sarri.
This semi-final clash provides the perfect confidence and moral boost that this Chelsea side needs, to push on and cement a coveted top four finish in the Premier League.
The occasion is sure to be full of quality, energy and all being well – no controversial VAR decisions. I have no doubt this game will only add to the growing list of classic games between Chelsea and Spurs.
With all this in mind, I am cautiously confident we will make it through to the final, yet it’ll be an attempt in vain as we’ll go on to lose to Manchester City convincingly at Wembley.
But the thought of lifting a trophy at Spurs’ home ground for the last 18 months is an opportunity Chelsea can’t miss.
Score prediction: 2-0 Chelsea
Sol – Spurs Fan
Lineup: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld(C), Davies, Dier, Winks, Lamela, Eriksen, N’Koudou, Llorente. Bench: Vorm, Fouyth, Rose, Skipp, Lucas, Sterling, Parrott
How do Spurs come into this?
After Harry Winks’ 93′ min winner at Craven Cottage on Sunday, grabbing a completely underserved three points, it’s safe to say Spurs come into this game in a much better position than many would have thought possible whilst watching the misery at the Cottage.
The three points from Fulham did come with its consequences though, with Dele limping off clutching his hamstring seemingly joining our host of lads on the recovery table – most notably Kane who, like Dele, will be out until March.
Add Son to that list who has just reached the QF’s of the Asian games, and you wouldn’t be mad to think Spurs have no attacking threat left!
They did show on Sunday however, that there’s great depth within this squad – Skipp and Sterling, both academy graduates and future Tottenham prospects, took their places on the bench and I expect them to do so again tonight; with the addition of 16 year old forward, Troy Parrott.
Although I dont expect them to start the match against Chelsea, with the FA cup only 3 days away, I certainly expect to see Poch allow some of these young stars to appear from the bench so as to see how their inclusion in first training is being translated upon the pitch, especially against such high-class opponents.
This will of course depend on how the game has panned out come the 83′ minute (knowing Poch’s love of late substitutions).
Where is the game won/lost?
For Spurs, their key man tonight will be Christian Eriksen.
The creative midfielder, currently being tapped up by Real Madrid to solve their current post-Ronaldo crisis, is going to have to be the pivot between winning the ball off of a possessional dominant team, supporting Dier and Winks in the middle, whilst simultaneously linking the midfield to the front three of Lamela, Llorente and N’koudou.
Should Sarri opt to drop Kante back in the midfield – following recent criticism following the midfielders foray’s into attacking position culminating to very little – Spurs will struggle to boss the midfield with the likes of Sissoko/Wanyama both still sidelined and Dembele having left the club last week (read my farewell to him here).
I do believe though that the traditional ‘Sarri Ball’, of which Chelsea have been dubbed to following tactically this year since his appointment as manager, will play into Spurs’ hand tactically for how they wish to control the night.
Heading into the 90 already with their first leg goal – and with away goals not counting – Spurs will be inclined to sit back and doggedly defend their narrow lead.
The Lilywhites have shown all season just how deadly they can be playing on the counter-attack; just ask Chelsea in November whom Spurs inflicted them their first league defeat of the season and begun to unravel the current crisis in which Sarri and his unmotivated men find themselves in.
Yes they might be missing their main proponent of the counter-attack in Son, but the inclusion of Lamela and N’koudou on the flanks will provide the necessary legs to spread apart Chelsea’s defence and allow for Eriksen to find the right runner; should Chelsea leave themselves too exposed desperately seeking a goal to keep them in the tie.
It’s through this counter-attacking play that I expect Spurs to catch Chelsea on the break, picking up the all important away goal – which could see Spurs qualify even if they lose 2-1 on the night.
I suspect Poch will keep loyal to Llorente and start him up top tonight, who will provide a focal point for Spurs’ somewhat watered down attack. He was rather disappointing at Fulham, his first league start in a year, and provided a further reminder to Spurs’ current issues with depth in forwards at this particular juncture.
I would love to see Lucas starting up top in the 4-2-3-1 with Eriksen, Lamela and N’koudou but I think this game could come to soon for the Brazilian winger who is still trying to recoup from a knee injury – it was confirmed by Poch yesterday though that he had rejoined training. So expect to see him taking a place on the bench and potentially provide cover for Poch in the ending moments of the game.
Spurs haven’t kept a clean sheet since the 1st leg – and I don’t expect them to tonight with a Chelsea side with the likes of Hazard, Pedro, Willian and potentially Giroud and the team desperate for a goal to make the tie interesting.
This shouldn’t invoke the notorious ‘Spursy’ bottler mentality that seems to be a plague within this club, with Spurs knowing should they go 1-0 down, only a goal is needed to see them through to ET and even the final – thanks to VAR and Kane’s first leg penalty.
Chelsea will have too much to do in order to dominate this game and at the same time retain astute defensive order and the clean sheet they require – which is why I can’t see them picking up the Runners-Up medals on the 24th of February; because let’s face it, it’s City’s cup regardless who tonight determines will be in front of them.
Do you agree with Sol or James? Or are they both wrong? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
This article was co-written by both Sol Lugmayer & James Parrott.