Tottenham Hotspur travel to Chelsea for the first leg of this huge EFL semi-final. Can either team build a lead, ahead of the second leg in north London?
Tottenham Hotspur’s Italian boss, Antonio Conte, returns to his former club, for the first leg of his side’s EFL Cup semi-final with Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The Blues defeated Brentford 2-0 to reach this stage, while the North Londoners emerged 2-1 winners over West Ham United in their quarter-final.
Chelsea were knocked out of the 2020-21 EFL Cup fourth round by Tottenham, but that victory represents Spurs’ only triumph from their last eight against the Blues, who strolled to a 3-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September’s Premier League encounter.
The EFL Cup looks like Spurs‘ best chance to finally end their 13-year trophy drought, with their last piece of silverware coming in the same competition in 2008, after overcoming Chelsea in the final.
Romelu Lukaku was dropped from the squad to face Liverpool at the weekend following his controversial interview and may also be sidelined by manager Thomas Tuchel here. Meanwhile, Edouard Mendy is playing for Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will return in goal with Mendy unavailable, while Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Saúl Ñíguez all have a chance of featuring from the first whistle.
For Spurs, Conte may feel that he has to shuffle his pack here, considering how hard he has worked his first-choice XI over the festive period. Harry Winks and Japhet Tanganga look the most likely to feature from the off.
Bryan Gil and Dele Alli could provide some energy in the final third, while a lack of alternative options should once again see Harry Kane leading the line.
Expect a cagey affair, with two tired sides probably leaving it until the second leg to make an impression. Our prediction is 0-0.
Chelsea possible starting XI:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Sarr; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovačić, Alonso; Ziyech, Pulisic; Havertz
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting XI:
Lloris; Tanganga, Sánchez, Davies; Emerson, Winks, Højbjerg, Reguilón; Son, Kane, Gil