Injury stricken Spurs look to cling to first leg lead at Stamford Bridge


On the 8th January, Mauricio Pochettino saw his Tottenham Hotspur side emerge victorious in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, a Harry Kane penalty sealing a 1-0 win.

Despite a fairly poor second half performance from Spurs, the mood at Hotspur Way, the club’s training complex, would have been positive having gained the initiative in the clash against their London rivals.

Since then, there has been less for Spurs’ fans to smile about. A few days after the Chelsea win they suffered defeat at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, losing Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane to injuries in the process.

These two setbacks in addition to Heung-Min Son jetting off to the Asia Games the day after meant for many it was time to press the panic buy button. Their Argentinian manager was as cool as ever dismissing questions over whether the Tottenham squad was strong enough to continue to compete, instead seeing his depleted squad as an opportunity for others.

Most recently their manager was forced to turn to a different Harry than usual, seeing Harry Winks nod home a last-gasp winner at Fulham this weekend forcing somewhat unfamiliar celebratory scenes from Pochettino and his coaching staff.

Often the personification of the word calm, you can often correlate the importance of a goal by the celebration of Pochettino. An example of this came during his first season in charge of the Lilywhites, when Harry Kane’s last minute deflected free-kick clinched a 2-1 win and all three points at Villa Park.

His team sat in 11th position, he had won three of his first nine and was feeling the pressure from chairman Daniel Levy. The Argentine still recalls that strike as his favourite Harry Kane goal, the one he says saved his job.

There will of course be no Harry Kane to call upon come Thursday night under the lights at Stamford Bridge. Spurs did win at Stamford Bridge 3-1 last season without Kane for the majority of the game but will also be without the man who scored two goals that day, Dele Alli.

Dele Alli celebrates scoring in a 3-1 win at Chelsea last season, Tottenham’s first win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years (Photo: AFP)

The attacker who is often the spearhead of the Tottenham frontline when Kane is unavailable, pulled his hamstring in the win over Fulham and will join his teammate on the sidelines until March.

Tottenham will welcome back Lucas Moura with open arms as they seek goal scoring options, Fernando Llorente only able to find the back of his own net in the Fulham win.

It’s the battle of Mauricio against Maurizio on Thursday although their name is perhaps the only similarity of the pair in reference to their preparations for this fixture.

Maurizio Sarri took the bold move to insult his players after their defeat to Arsenal as many fear the tactic could see the Italian lose the faith of his players.

Switching back to his native Italian in order for the 60-year-old to ensure he got his message across clearly, Sarri stated that his group of players were difficult to motivate, questioning their mentality after the 2-0 defeat at The Emirates.

It is reported that Sarri has since held talks to clear the air with the Chelsea players although losing the faith of a few players may just about even the sides up due to Tottenham’s current injury problems.

The fixture may see both sides play without a recognised striker, Tottenham operating with Lucas Moura as a false nine and Chelsea with Eden Hazard as they started the first leg.

Tottenham will have to defend resolutely against a packed house at Stamford Bridge who will be ready to make this a difficult tie.

Chelsea have to be considered favourites given Spurs’ injury woes with Sarri’s men due to be put under the microscope should they fail to beat a Tottenham team without their three main goal threats in Kane, Alli and Son.

It is sure to be a fiery encounter as it always is between these sides as the London rivals look to ensure it’s them who book their place in the Carabao Cup final on 24th February.




About Author

Comments are closed.