Chelsea bring a 2-0 lead into this League Cup semifinal second leg at New Three Point Lane, where we’ve won three of three in the league since its opening. We did however get eliminated from the League Cup here last season, via penalties after a 1-1 draw in the fourth round. The only way this second leg goes to penalties is if we lose by two (no away goals counted). Tuchel has lost just one game so far in his Chelsea tenure by two or more goals, that incredibly odd 5-2 defeat to relegation-bound West Brom last season.
None of that of course guarantees victory or advancement, and it might even add to the sense of complacency against which Tuchel has warned in the pre-match press conference. But Tuchel has yet to lose any semifinal in his career (DFB-Pokal twice, three French domestic cups, FA Cup, Champions League twice), so you know he will have everyone prepared and set to go to the best of his ability — even if all good things must come to an end eventually.
The rest will be up to the players, to keeps said good times rolling.
Date / Time: Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 19.45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK
Referee: Andre Marriner (on pitch); Mike Dean (VAR) — Marriner is almost as bad an omen as Dean, if you believe in or care about such things. We have just 2 wins in our last 8 under him, though one of those was the 1-0 here last season (Jorginho converting the penalty won by Werner), and the other the 2-0 win over Brentford in the previous round of this League Cup. But to me, Marriner will always be the guy who sent off the wrong man in our 6-0 win over Arsenal way back when. Classic!
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport Grandstand (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); JioTV? Voot? (India); DStv Now (NGA) — for those in the USA, since ESPN+ seems to always have issues with the English feed, I recommend switching to the Spanish language broadcast. They’re more fun anyway.
Tottenham Hotspur team news: Antonio Conte tore into his team after the first leg defeat, claiming that it highlighted a massive gap in not only talent but ambition between the two sides. And that talent gap isn’t about to get any smaller, with Son Heung-min ruled out through injury, and none of Eric Dier, Cristian Romero, or Steven Bergwijn apparently recovering well enough in time to be risked either.
The first leg was Conte’s first defeat in domestic competitions in two months since taking over at Spurs, but they almost made it two from two against unfancied Morecambe over the weekend in the FA Cup. They were losing as late as the 73rd minute against third division strugglers Morecambe before three goals from Harry Winks, Harry Kane, and Not-Harry Moura spared their blushes.
Spurs follow this game up with a North London Derby against Arsenal, then Leicester City and Chelsea (again!) away, which will certainly put their top-six credentials to the test in the league as well.
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
Chelsea team news: N’Golo Kanté and Thiago Silva returned to training yesterday following their 7-day isolations, but that doesn’t mean they will be risked for this game, especially with Manchester City away coming up Saturday noon. Other than our long-term absentees in Ben Chilwell (ACL), Reece James (hamstring), Trevoh Chalobah (hamstring), and Édouard Mendy (AFCON), we have no acute injury concerns at the moment — though fatigue and overload remain a very real factor.
Youth involvement will be limited, if any at all, with most of them involved in last night’s 4-1 defeat in the EFL Trophy Round of 16, including Harvey Vale, Lewis Baker, Xavier Simons, Charlie Webster, Jude Soonsup-Bell, and Xavier Mbuyamba, who got sent off in the first-half. One player not involved was 17-year-old Lewis Hall, our Man of the Match on Saturday.
Previously: This time last week, 2-0 to the good guys, and it really should’ve been more.