All white on the night for Spurs
Having beaten Chelsea twice in 2018, Spurs have the better of the recent head-to-head over their London rivals. Can they make it three in a row to seize the initiative in the first leg of this semi-final?
The bookies seem to think so and it’s hard to look past anything other than a victory for the hosts. Spurs are having a whale of a time currently and are managing to combine the two desired facets of a modern-day football team by winning, and, in style.
22 goals in their last five games is some going. Seven at Tranmere on Friday night, three in 26 first half minutes to blow Cardiff away, six at Everton, five at home to Bournemouth. Prior to that they pretty much played Arsenal off the park to reach this stage of the EFL cup.
Poch’s men appear to be getting better as the season goes on. They’re still competing on four fronts and are well placed to win their first piece of silverware since lifting this very trophy in 2008.
Just when it was thought a lack of depth may prove Pochettino’s undoing, the consistency in selection has worked wonders for Spurs' players who are reaping the rewards of relying on a strong core who, by now, know each other inside out.
Getting the monkey of winning a first trophy off their back should and could be the making of this group. In the shape they’re in, they probably won’t have a better chance.
While the garden may be rosy over in North London, the same cannot be said in SW6. Chelsea appear unsettled both on and off the pitch at a crucial stage of the season.
Transfer speculation continues to surround the futures of Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill, Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses. Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata, yet to live up to his billing in the blue of Chelsea, is far from a cert to stay and the persistent talk of hot prospect Callum Hudson-Odoi heading to Bayern, is a further distraction Sarri could do without.
The Italian also has a host of injury issues to contend with. Ruben Loftus Cheek, Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud are all struggling with injury and Mateo Kovacic is recovering from sickness.
Make no mistake, Sarri has performed above average in his new role so far. But there’s been a noticeable drop-off in performance of late which is apparent for all and needs addressing ahead of a crucial couple of months.
The Blues may have had just enough to see off Forest, Palace and Watford but similar uninspiring showings to those seen against Leicester and Southampton will see Chelsea with a mountain to climb going into the second leg.
Spurs boast togetherness and a set of players playing some of the best football of their career. Chelsea cannot be disregarded entirely but this team is a shell of the one that impressed during the first third of the season and I feel they’ll be pull up short.
Spurs are over evens to win the game on the night and, with it, take a huge step towards the final next month.
Nick’s tip: Back a home win and jump on board the best odds on the market of 5/4 (2.25) with Unibet.