Mauricio Pochettino is speaking to the media in his regular pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday’s League Cup semifinal second leg between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. The good news is that Spurs’ injury and absentee list is down to just three players. The bad news is, of course, who those three players are.
Let’s start with the bad news, and it’s the one that everyone knows already. Harry Kane and Dele Alli are, of course, injured and are expected to return in early March, and Son Heung-Min is still with his Korean international teammates at the Asian Cup after Korea made the quarterfinals in an extra time win over Bahrain yesterday.
But there is some good news. Spurs have welcomed back Moussa Sissoko, Victor Wanyama, and Lucas Moura back to full training this week. That doesn’t mean that we’ll see all of them in action against Chelsea tomorrow — Pochettino said that Lucas and Sissoko are in contention to play tomorrow, but Wanyama will likely wait until the weekend FA Cup match against Crystal Palace.
#thfc Pochettino says Sissoko & Lucas are in contention to play tomorrow. Wanyama trying to be available for the weekend in the FA Cup. Poch admits this is “one of the worst moments” to lose Alli to injury.— Ben Pearce (@BenPearceSpurs) January 23, 2019
And then there’s this, from the Chelsea side — Maurizio Sarri apparently had until noon today to get Gonzalo Higuain signed and registered in order to play him against Tottenham on Thursday in the second leg. Chelsea officially announced today that they have missed that deadline, and Higuain will NOT be eligible to play against Spurs at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri says it is not possible for Higuain to play against Tottenham tomorrow after the midday deadline passed before the move has been completed. #CHETOT— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 23, 2019
LOL. I’m not sure whether that’s actually consequential news for Spurs, but Higuain has played under Sarri at Napoli and knows “Sarriball” pretty darn well, and he also scored twice against Spurs for Juventus in the Champions League last season. Mostly I just think it’s hilarious. It means that, with Alvaro Morata basically gone to Atletico Madrid, Chelsea are most likely going to roll out the strikerless formation with Eden Hazard at the false nine. Which will be similar to the strikerless formation Spurs will probably roll out with Lucas Moura or Erik Lamela in the same role.