A London Derby of two legs and the first of 3 meetings this month!
Chelsea welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for the 1st leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final. The 2nd leg will by played next week at the Totttenham Hotspur Stadium and Tottenham also visit The Bridge for a Premier League game on the 23rd. This is the first of the three fixtures. Tottenham we all know started the season well as far as points go but suffered 5 losses in 7 and that spelled the end of Nuno Espirito Santo as their manager. In came a manager Chelsea fans are all too familiar with the one and only Don Antonio Conte. Antonio Conte won Chelsea the league in 16/17 and won the FA Cup in 2018, before leaving the club in the summer of that year. The 2nd season was a rough ride but the first season was nothing more than amazing and is still probably my best season as a Chelsea fan. Now though he manages Spurs and until he is their manager all the love is on hold. Since Conte has come in Spurs have played 8 games in the league winning five and drawing three. Their journey in the Carabao Cup has seen them beat Wolves on penalties, followed by a narrow 0-1 win against Burnley and a 2-1 win against West Ham. The Carabao Cup along with the FA Cup are Spurs two real chances at some silverware this season having been disqualified from the Europa Conference League.
Chelsea go into this game having comeback to draw against Liverpool 2-2 in the league on Sunday. That game ofcourse came amongst the uproar of the Lukaku interview and today Tuchel came out and said the situation had been dealt with. Tuchel had a meeting with Lukaku and Marina on Monday and Lukaku apologised to him and realised that the had made a mistake with his comments but his intention was not to anger anyone or disrupt the season. Tuchel said that Lukaku was back in training and will be involved going forward. When asked about the relationship between Lukaku and the fans Tuchel said that he realises that there will be mixed feelings but he hopes that they back the team and by doing that they back Lukaku when he is on the pitch. I personally would say the same thing, just support the team and don’t boo Lukaku, no one is forcing the fans to make Lukaku their favourite player. Let Lukaku make his apologies to the fans on the pitch and there is no better way to start doing that by playing Spurs three times in a month. Our Carabao Cup journey has seen us beat Villa, and Southampton one penalties and beat Brentford 0-2 in the quarter’s. Last season we didn’t even get past the 4th round so this is a good chance to progress to an early final.
Chelsea Team Preview
Chelsea will be without Chalobah who is injured and Christensen might not be fit as well with James, and Chilwell missing for some time. Mendy is also out as he is involved in AFCON this month. Loftus-Cheek and Werner are back but while Werner might feature on the bench I doubt RLC will make it to the squad having just returned. With our weekend game against Chesterfield in the FA Cup I expect a strong lineup in this game. Kepa should start in goal with a back three of Azpilicueta, Silva, and Rudiger. I expect Simons to return to the lineup as a wing back on the right while Alonso should play on the left. Jorginho, and Saul should make up the midfield two after Kovacic and Kante played the full 90 against Liverpool while Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, and Lukaku should make up the front three. We know that Conte likes to sit deep and suffer and we will need our two most creative wingers on the pitch to chuck in balls for Lukaku. Could we see some academy players like Vale feature? Maybe but I think since this is a semi-final I don’t expect many of the youngsters to be involved. Hudson-Odoi or Pulisic could of course feature as right wing backs but Pulisic needs a rest and Hudson-Odoi would prefer to play in attack. With 5 subs there will be several options on the bench.
Tottenham Team Preview
Conte will setup Tottenham in his tailor made 3-4-3 formation, but it could be tweaked to be a back 5 or with a midfield 3 like against Liverpool. Lloris should start in goal with a back three of Sanchez, Dier, and Davies. Emerson and Reguilon should start as the wing backs with a midfield three of Alli, Hojberg, and Winks. Son and Kane should start up front. Tottenham will have the likes of Moura available on the bench if need be. Knowing Conte you can expect them to sit back and defend well and counter with pace. Liverpool was a perfect example of how they play against teams that are open but unlike Liverpool Chelsea play a 3 at the back. Son and Kane seem to be gaining form while Spurs are conceding fewer goals at the moment. It is a team with more confidence than the last time they faced Chelsea this season.
Starting XI Prediction
Chelsea against Tottenham is a rivalry that many know about all too well. Chelsea fans will welcome Conte back at the Bridge but as soon as the whistle goes off and for much of this month he will be an enemy of the club. It’s the 1st leg so Tottenham might play it cautious but Chelsea will want to go all guns blazing and take advantage in this first leg itself. A very exciting game indeed, COME ON CHELSEA!!!