7 January 2019

Tottenham v. Chelsea Preview  (Sky Sports)

Tottenham v. ChelseaLondon rivals Tottenham and Chelsea meet in a blockbuster Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Wembley on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri are both attempting to win the first major trophy of their managerial careers - they are the only current managers of top six teams yet to win any major honours.

Sarri's first two losses as Chelsea boss came at Wembley, in August's Community Shield and, after an 18-match unbeaten run, against Spurs on November 24.

In that game, Spurs scored twice in the opening 16 minutes and Sarri afterwards bemoaned his side's attitude.

He said on Monday that his team must match Spurs' desire before tactics can be taken into account.

He added: "We need to approach the match in another way, because we lost the match in the first 15 minutes. They were really more aggressive than us, more determined than us.

"Now we know very well if we approach the same there's no solution for us. I want to speak before about this, otherwise it's useless to speak about tactics."

Meanwhile, over the last 10 years since Jan 2009, Tottenham have played in six major semi-finals, but lost all four against teams from the same division. They have only beaten League One Sheffield Utd and then Championship club Burnley in that period.

Team news

Lucas Moura will be missing for Tottenham after picking up a knee injury in the 7-0 FA Cup win at Tranmere on Friday.

Erik Lamela has recovered from illness, but Eric Dier (appendicitis) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are still out along with Mousa Dembele (ankle) and Jan Vertonghen (groin).

Paulo Gazzaniga has played all of Spurs' domestic cup ties so far this season and is set to remain in goal.

Pedro, Willian (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (ankle) could return from injury for Chelsea.

Mateo Kovacic may return after illness forced him to sit out Saturday's FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest but Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is out and Cesc Fabregas is closing on a move to Monaco.

Opta stats

This is the ninth League Cup match between these sides, and the first since the 2015 final - of the previous eight meetings, Spurs have won two, Chelsea have won four with two draws.

Spurs and Chelsea are set to meet in a League Cup semi-final for the third time, having also done so in 1971-72 and 2001-02 - the only fixture to be played more often at this stage is Arsenal against Spurs (four occasions).

Tottenham have won their last two matches against Chelsea, both in the Premier League - they haven't won three in a row against their London rivals in all competitions since a run of five between March 1961 and September 1963.

Chelsea have qualified for the League Cup final on four of the previous five occasions they've played the first leg away from home, despite winning just one of those games (D2 L2).

Spurs are competing in their 15th League Cup semi-final - only Liverpool (17) have appeared at this stage more often in the competition's history.

Chelsea - who've already lost to Spurs at Wembley in the Premier League this season - could become just the second team to lose twice against the same opponent at Wembley in a single season, after Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal in 1992-93, who lost the League Cup final and an FA Cup final replay to the Gunners.

Dele Alli has scored more goals against Chelsea (6) than he has against any other opponent in all competitions during his career, as well as netting four goals in his last five League Cup appearances for Spurs.

Eden Hazard has scored in his last three League Cup appearances - the last player to score in four consecutive appearances in the competition was Dwight Gayle in September 2015 for Crystal Palace.

Charlie's prediction

I think both will go after the game and field full-strength sides. Pochettino has never won a trophy so it's massive for Spurs, far more important than it is for Chelsea. While it's hard sometimes to work out what Sarri will do, I think Eden Hazard will play. Getting close to him is halfway to stopping Chelsea, though I don't think they're in great shape at the moment. It'll be a physical match-up and it could be quite a bitty game but with Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, Tottenham will score and I'm backing them to edge this first leg.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: Spurs 2-1 Chelsea (8/1 with Sky Bet)

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