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Chelsea v Spurs Carabao Cup Semi Final Review

Spurs were cruelly knocked out of the Carabao Cup semi-final on penalties after an eventful night at Stamford Bridge. It was a poor first half performance from Spurs and it looked like The Blues would ease into the final but a spirited second half dispalay saw them take the tie to penalties. However, misses from Eric Dier and Lucas Moura in the penalty shootout meant that Mauricio Pochettino’s injury laden team were knocked out, after Chelsea converted all four spot kicks.

Spurs were comfortable in possession at the start of the match but it was Chelsea who had more cutting edge and were the ones who were creating the chances. Inside four minutes, Pedro found himself with lots of room on the right hand side after Ben Davies had bombed forward. The Spanish winger, a World Cup and Champions League winner, cut inside on his left foot but his shot on target was blocked by Toby Alderweireld, who had positioned himself brilliantly.

That set the tone of the first half for Chelsea, as Spurs never really pressurised Kepa Arrizabalaga. Their dominance paid off midway through the half, as N’golo Kante opened the scoring. An Eden Hazard corner was cleared to the edge of the area, but with no Spurs players there, Kante had time to set himself and fire at goal. His shot was fizzed in and took two slight deflections off Ben Davies and Eric Dier, which put off Paulo Gazzaniga who could not readjust in time to block the shot. It was the fourth of the season for the popular Frenchman, more than he has scored in any other season in English football.

There were muted celebrations from the Chelsea players as they knew the job was not done and another goal was needed. The second for Chelsea almost came after good work from Eden Hazard on the left flank. He breezed past Moussa Sissoko before putting in a low cross to Olivier Giroud. The Chelsea striker could not divert his effort on target, as the ball was slightly behind him, but the attack showed that Hazard was really getting into the game.

Sure enough, it was Hazard who doubled Chelsea’s lead a few minutes later. Some quick thinking from Ross Barkley started the Chelsea attack, after his quick free kick caught Spurs off guard. A flowing Chelsea moved followed, with Hazard feeding Pedro on the right who then had Cesar Azpilicueta overlapping. The Chelsea captain’s cross was put into the perfect area and Hazard, who had continued his run into the Spurs area, finished with ease into the bottom corner.

Whereas the first goal may have been fortunate, the second was a superb team effort and Spurs could have no complaints at being 2-0 down as they had failed to register a shot on target in the first period.

Spurs Denied on Penalties in the Carabao Cup

After a poor first half, Pochettino decided to switch the Spurs formation with Eric Dier dropping back into a three man central defence, leaving Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko as the two central midfielders.

The formation change and team talk immediately worked, as Spurs looked a much different side and went close through a Toby Alderweireld volley. The Belgian centre back hit the ball sweetly, but could not control his effort to get it on target.

However it was not long until the pressure paid dividends. After Ben Davies went off injured after thirty minutes, Danny Rose came on in his place and was allowed more attacking freedom with the formation change. It was his cross from the by-line after fifty minutes that was met by Fernando Llorente, who did brilliantly to divert it in to make it 2-1. Llorente had a quiet first half but manipulated his body to get down and head the ball past Arrizabalaga. With the away goal rule no longer in operation in the Carabao Cup, it meant that both teams needed to lead the tie on aggregate if they wished to progress or else penalties loomed after ninety minutes.

A Chelsea third nearly came immediately after the restart when Giroud was set through by Kante. However his right-footed shot was quite tame and Paulo Gazzaniga was able to get down low to his left and save. Soon after, Hazard had a golden chance but instead snatched at his effort and skewed it wide of the Spurs net.

A similar pattern to the first period did not follow however, as Spurs were also creating their chances. Gazzaniga turned into the Spurs playmaker after his kick found Christian Eriksen on the right. He then picked out a measured pass to the onrushing Llorente who was too tempted to volley the ball first time and completely fluffed his lines. It was a sweeping counter attack from Spurs and deserved a better finish, but the signs were there that they could get an equaliser on the night and progress to the final of the Carabao Cup.

Substitute Lucas Moura then had an opportunity, once more after a Gazzaniga kick. The Brazilian let the ball come across his body before unleashing a left footed effort, but he did not connect with it as sweetly as he would’ve liked and Arrizabalaga saw the ball hit the side netting.

The tie was fizzing out as both teams seemed to accept that penalties were inevitable however there was one last chance for Chelsea. Emerson, who deputised for Marcos Alonso and had a very good game, surged forward on the left and whipped in an accurate cross which was perfect for a striker like Olivier Giroud. However Giroud failed to get a good connection on his header and the ball sailed wide, which meant that penalty kicks would decide who would progress to the final of the Carabao Cup.

Spurs were the first to take their penalties, which were in front of the Chelsea fans. Eriksen and Lamela for Spurs and Willian and Azpilicueta for Chelsea converted the first four, but Eric Dier crucially missed Spurs’ third. Lucas Moura’s penalty was then saved by Arrizabalaga, which allowed David Luiz to take the winning penalty to send Chelsea into the Carabao Cup final where they will face Manchester City.

It was a cruel way to bow out for Spurs, particularly given the number of injuries to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad, but the spirited second half performance shows that this set of players will always battle to the end, no matter who is injured or unavailable.

Chelsea v Spurs Carabao Cup Teams

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What the Managers Said

Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino

“Disappointed to lose in that way, but it can happen. It was a signal that we fought and were brave, and in all the circumstances we played really well. Until we conceded the first goal, I think we were in control of the game. I told the players in the first half that the way we played from the back in the first half, it was one of the best games that we’ve played.”

“Of course it was tough to arrive in the last third. Until we conceded the first goal I think it was under control but then we conceded the second goal quickly.” (football.london)

Chelsea Manager Maurizio Sarri

“I didn’t attack my players, I only said we had a problem. The reaction was very good but I think we need to have motivation with continuity now, but I was very happy with the performance before the penalties.”

“Of course it’s better because we will now play a final, a very difficult final but I was very happy with the performance. Also if there was a different outcome from the penalties (I would have been happy).”

“We have to think about the 180 minutes, the two matches. In two matches I think we deserved to win, and I think in this match we deserved to win without penalties.” (ChelseaFC)

Chelsea v Spurs Carabao Cup Man of the Match

From a Spurs perspective Toby Alderweireld once again put in a very good performance. Despite being a member of the defence that conceded twice in the first period, the Belgian made an important interception early on in the encounter from Pedro’s shot and performed a wonderful, goal-saving tackle on Hazard.

What’s Up Next for Spurs?

Spurs are back in action on Sunday in the FA Cup Fourth Round where they will take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They then return to Premier League football as Watford visit Wembley on Wednesday 30th January.


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