It’s half-time in the League Cup semifinal, and Chelsea are losing. But the deficit, as unjust as it may be thanks to VAR contriving to still make a bad call despite video evidence, is only the narrowest of margins.
Still, the 1-0 lead does give undermanned Spurs something to defend as they come to the Bridge. Chelsea’s task is just as clear: score at least one goal. That hasn’t been the easiest task of late — shut out in three of our last five games in all competitions — but perhaps the aura of Gonzalo Higuaín will help already.
The winner —
away goals only apply if the match goes to extra-time (EDIT: rules changed this season to do away with any and all extra-time; match would go straight to penalty kicks) — will face Manchester City, who took care business easily against third division Burton Albion by a 10-0 aggregate scoreline.
Date / Time: Thursday, January 24, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Forecast: Cold and ever colder with each useless pass
Referee: Martin Atkinson — this will the 50th Chelsea game of Atkinson’s long career, and the fourth this season. It will also be the fifth semifinal that Atkinson has refereed for Chelsea in the last four years — we’ve won two (the two FA Cup semifinals, including the 4-2 against Spurs) and drawn two (the two League Cup semifinal legs).
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none? (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA)
Chelsea team news: New great striker hope Gonzalo Higuaín missed the registration deadline, so he’s ineligible. Previous great striker hope Álvaro Morata is basically gone, and is Victor Moses, though neither were likely to feature to begin with. Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains the squad’s only injury worry, other Andreas Christensen’s apparently weak and nervous stomach.
While all attention over the past 24-48 hours has been focused on Higuaín, this is an absolute must-win for the Blues, especially after the diabolical performance on Saturday against Arsenal, which left Sarri questioning his players’ personal motivations and desire to compete.
Chelsea have now lost five games this season in all competitions; we’ve responded with a win every time so far.
Spurs team news: Tottenham aren’t missing too many players either, but the ones not available are all massively concerning for Pochettino & Co. Harry Kane (ankle) and Dele Alli (hamstring) are both out for until early-to-mid March, while Son Heung-min is still away at the Asian Cup. This game comes a bit too soon for Victor Wanyama (knee), who should be fit for the weekend, but both Moussa Sissoko (groin) and Lucas Moura (knee) are in contention to feature today.
Spurs have lost just one (1) game away from home since mid-September, a 4-2 league defeat to Arsenal, and have now won three (3) in a row against Chelsea in all competitions, including a 3-1 win at the Bridge on April Fools’ last season.
But that was no laughing matter, and neither would be a fourth match in succession without a win against them.
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
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