Verdict: Chelsea win and under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 11/4
Heading to Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 advantage, Mauricio Pochettino’s weakened Spurs side will face Chelsea in their EFL Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, coming off the back of a 2-0 loss away at Arsenal last weekend and Maurizio Sarri publically criticising his squad, Chelsea’s bright start to the season seems a long time ago. With their advantage in the top-four cut to just three points and with both Arsenal and Manchester United breathing down their necks, it will be the Blues’ form in the final third which will be the biggest concern for the former Napoli boss. With Eden Hazard being deployed as a false nine and fans around Stamford Bridge desperately awaiting the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, the West London side have failed to score in four of their past seven games against teams from the top-flight. While Chelsea may have failed to win a single match against Spurs over the past 12 months, they do hold the upper hand in the last five matches against the Lilywhites in SW6. With a 1-0 loss to Leicester last month their only home defeat of the season, they have lost just one of their last five home matches against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Gonzalo Higuain will not feature for Chelsea as his anticipated signing was not completed in time.
Eden Hazard could continue as a ‘false nine’ or Olivier Giroud could start, with Alvaro Morata out of favour ahead of his expected departure to Atletico Madrid. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is likely to be out again.
As for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, Spurs’ Argentinian boss will be feeling that a string of bad luck couldn’t have come at a worse time. England international Dele Alli has been ruled out for up to six weeks and joins an ever-growing injury list that also includes leading goalscorer Harry Kane. While Tottenham were without their usual creativity in the final third against Fulham on Sunday, they did show plenty of heart to clinch a crucial three points. Despite falling 1-0 behind at Craven Cottage, Thursday’s visitors clinched a last-gasp 2-1 win and have now won four of their last five matches across all competitions. Now sat nine points adrift of Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title, Pochettino will arguably be most impressed by his sides form away from Wembley this season. Spurs are currently enjoying a six-match winning run domestically since their 4-2 loss in the North London derby at the start of December. Despite some of their biggest stars being forced to watch from the stands, Pochettino will be trying to boost his squad with their current record against Chelsea. Their 1-0 win at Wembley a fortnight ago means that Tottenham have one their last three consecutive matches against the Blues.
Tottenham could have Lucas Moura (knee) and Moussa Sissoko (groin) available.
Dele Alli (hamstring) and Harry Kane (ankle) are out until March while Son Heung-min is on international duty.
Key Factors to Consider
- Chelsea have lost both of their meetings with Tottenham this season – the last time they lost three games against the same opponent in a season was vs Manchester City in 2012-13.
- Tottenham are looking to win four games in a row against Chelsea in all competitions for the first time since a run of five between March 1961 and September 1963.
- Chelsea have not lost consecutive home games against Spurs in all competitions since March 1982.
- The last time Tottenham beat a team three times in the same season was in 2013-14 against Aston Villa.
- Since the start of last season, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been directly involved in six goals in his seven League Cup games (3 goals, 3 assists).
While Chelsea might be chasing a one goal deficit and also hold a poor record against Spurs over the past 12 months, Maurizio Sarri should see this as a chance to break that duck. With Tottenham unable to call upon the likes of Harry Kane and now Dele Alli, we’re backing the Blues to come away with the victory in a low scoring encounter.
Verdict: Chelsea to win and under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 11/4
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