Spurs to win the battle but not the war
Tottenham Hotspur have their work cut out if they are to reach the final of the 2021/2022 EFL Cup. Antonio Conte's men were ruthlessly punished for their defensive mistakes in their 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and only a win by the same margin or greater will keep their hopes alive on Wednesday night. Read our preview here:
By Royal appointment
It's an open secret that Conte is looking for players to supplement his squad in the transfer window, with the three biggest areas he's looking to improve coming at left-sided centre back, a progressive ball carrier/creator in central midfield, and right wing-back. The current contenders on the roster for the latter role have failed to impress sufficiently, with neither Matt Doherty nor loanee Emerson Royal, signed by previous incumbent Nuno Espirito Santo, have held down the berth. However, until things change, one will have to step up, with the Brazilian set to have the onerous task of keeping the combination of Marcos Alonso and Hakim Ziyech quiet down his flank. His ball control has let him down in the opposition's final third, making the approach play rather lopsided and predictable when trying to reach the front three. Heung-min Son is out for at least the rest of January, brutally revealing yet another weakness in the current personnel who could replace him. Gio Lo Celso is a vastly different kind of player, and his own output is far below the South Korean's.
Better call Saúl
Thomas Tuchel remains without defensive trio Reece James, Ben Chilwell, and Trevoh Chalobah. Experienced pair Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kanté are further doubts, and with the Blues having a two-goal advantage, it would make sense to risk neither of them. Atlético Madrid Saúl Ñíguez has been backed by his temporary head coach to become an important player for the London outfit, and, when on form, he has the class to stamp his authority on the contest from midfield. Romelu Lukaku should retain his place up top as he continues his 'reintegration' into the first team picture.
The loss of Son robs Spurs of one of their three genuinely elite players who can conjure up something out of nothing, and that ingenuity is often required to trouble a balanced looking Chelsea sufficiently to make the Blues work hard for a result. Tuchel might choose to keep things tight in order to hit the hosts on the break, and Parimatch have odds of 10.50 for a 1-0 home win that will not be enough to reach Wembley.