Chelsea v Spurs – Semi-final match preview

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Tonight we take a one goal advantage to Stamford Bridge in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Hopefully there’ll be some free samples of the sponsors’ product available because If anyone needs an energy drink it’s the Spurs medical team.

Dele’s tumble off the pitch in the closing moments at Craven Cottage was the last thing we needed given the absence already of Harry, Son, Lucas, Sissoko, Wanyama and the only recent return to fitness of Vertonghen, Sanchez and Dier.

What a mess.

Chuck in Llorente’s timid performance on Sunday, Aurier’s troubles off the pitch, Lamela’s reversion to the can’t-give-the-ball-away-fast-enough player of a couple of seasons ago and it’s pretty difficult to see how we might progress to the final.

However…

Chelski aren’t in a good state themselves. Injuries aren’t the issue there, it’s more the inability of the coach to fit his square pegs into square holes. Once more at the weekend they were undone by a diamond formation and a modicum of intensity from the off and to be outrun & outfought by a gooner side in this day and age isn’t a good sign.

Sarri’s rant afterwards about the lack of warriors in his side may win him few friends in the dressing room in the long term, in the immediate future though it may be exactly the kick up the arse some of his players needed before Thursday. Unfortunately.

So, without our top four goal scorers and against a side who dominated possession last time we played them, how are we going to create a threat? On the break is the only option. We’ll be mostly reeling them in before launching long distance raids. It’s tried and tested, just not with this personnel.

Lucas may be fit enough to start and if so, he, Lamela and Eriksen could be up front with Llorente and NKoudou ready on the bench as plan B. Vertonghen, Toby and Sanchez will be in the middle behind Dier (fit enough to start I hope) and goal hero Winks with Davies and Trippier out wide all in front of Gazzaniga, a man who will probably have to give a Man of the Match type display if we’re going to stand a chance of getting through.

The main problem with this is that the diamond formation with the man at the tip sitting on Jorginho is the proven way to stifle Chelsea and stop them getting the ball quickly to Hazard or Pedro. Unless there’s a surprise recovery from one of the absent midfielders, or Poch decides to give Skipp a go from the off, it’s difficult to see how we can play a system like this with our lack of fit and able bodies.

What we really must not do, what we really really really must not do, is concede an early goal. If we do, we’re screwed. Completely.
If we can keep it tight and frustrate them, you never know. We’ve beaten them the last three times we’ve played them. Making it four might be too much to ask, a draw though is possible and would be enough.

Martin Atkinson is the ref.

COYS. Let’s do ‘em.

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