The League Cup begins life each and every season at the very bottom of Chelsea’s competition priority list, but at the stage we’re now in, and given everything else that’s going on (or not going on), that may not be the case anymore.
In fact, given the way Manchester City are running away with the league title, given the way we’ve been decimated by injuries for much of the season, and given the opposition and the opportunity on hand, winning this two-legged semifinal (and then the final against either Arsenal or Liverpool) has surely taken on greater than usual significance and importance.
In the grand scheme of things, the League Cup hardly matters. In the context of the current season, right now it matters. In the context of Chelsea, Spurs, Conte, Lukaku, this very moment, I daresay it matters quite a bit.
Of course, with increased expectations comes increased chances of disappointment, so I guess we better not let everyone down.
Date / Time: Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 19.45 GMT; 2:25pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Craig Pawson (on pitch); Jared Gillett (VAR)
Forecast: Dipping down towards freezing
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); MTV India (India); SuperSport MaXimo 1 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); JioTV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Following all the off-pitch drama, reaction, and apologies, Romelu Lukaku’s set up perfectly for a glorious redemption against one of our biggest rivals, these days managed by former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, who of course was with Lukaku at Inter the previous two seasons. Small world, this world of football.
Timo Werner is back as well, as is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, though probably neither is really match fit yet. Andreas Christensen and Trevoh Chalobah are doubtful, while Ben Chilwell and Reece James are out long term. Édouard Mendy’s off to the Africa Cup of Nations for the next month.
Chelsea have lost just 1 of our last 21 games (and that on a fluke goal from West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku), but we’ve won just 3 of our last 9 and just 2 of our last 7 at home (with 5 draws) — 2 of the last 8, even, depending on how you count beating Southampton on penalties in an earlier round of this competition. That said, we’ve lost only once at home all season, and that was to Manchester City.
Tottenham Hotspur team news: Antonio Conte certainly needs no introduction, and it should come as no surprise that even at Spurs, he’s managed to not lose a single game yet in domestic competition since taking over two months ago. He did lose once in the Europa Conference to whoever NŠ Mura are, and also forfeited the match they didn’t fulfill due to a COVID outbreak (nice one, UEFA) but otherwise it’s 7 wins and 3 draws for the Don, with 5 clean sheets.
Spurs do have a rather short injury list at the moment, with only Steven Bergwijn, Ryan Sessegnon, and Cristian Romero ruled out. Amazing what having a short break without football can do (even if it was enforced due to their COVID situation), right, Premier League?
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
Previously: Chelsea beat Spurs 3-0 earlier this season, but we shouldn’t expect another cakewalk like that. Last time we met in the League Cup, Spurs won on penalties (fourth round, last season; they’d go on to lose to Manchester City in the final). That’s Spurs’ only win over Chelsea in the last nine, since beating us 1-0 in the first leg of the 2018-19 League Cup semifinal (we’d go on to beat them in the second leg on penalties, and go on to lose to Manchester City in the final).