Often feelings during and after a match do not exactly line up with the final scoreline. This was the case for many Tottenham Hotspur supporters over the weekend, with a late Davinson Sanchez header the only thing preventing a drab 0-0 draw against Watford. The goal was justified per xG (2.0), however, and even if it was tough to watch, it earned Spurs three key points.
On the flip side was September’s 0-3 beatdown against Chelsea, which opened up with one of Tottenham’s best halves under Nuno Espirito Santo. The rarely seen (but often hoped for) midfield of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was running the match, and the high press looked more than capable of delivering a goal.
In a season full of plenty of disjointed realities, Spurs should feel fortunate to find a spot in the League Cup semifinals. Chelsea are the better team, but this tie is winnable; after all, the gap between the sides could be just one point were Tottenham to win its three matches in hand. The second leg is set for next Wednesday in North London.
Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Date: Wednesday, January 5
Time: 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm UK
Location: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: ESPN+ (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
Chelsea are actually in pretty rough form, drawing four of its last five in the league. That should not matter though, knowing how derbies are between these two rivals and remembering how things played out earlier this season. Tottenham has improved since then, especially on the offensive end, but the Blues are still a top-three side in xGA.
The same can also be said of the home side on the other end of the pitch, where the attack remains strong even without Romelu Lukaku. Spurs might be best off hoping for a lower-event match like Wolves and Brighton were able to force Chelsea into, but odds are this one will see some prime opportunities on both ends.
- Tottenham beat Wolves 2-2 on penalties, snuck by 0-1 over Burnley, then bested West Ham 2-1 to advance to the semifinals. Chelsea faced three Premier League opponents as well, taking down both Aston Villa and Southampton on penalties before scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes against Brentford to advance from the quarterfinals.
- This will of course be a big match for Antonio Conte, who returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since being sacked by Chelsea, a team whom he lead to the Premier League title in 2016/17. His focus will remain on the pitch, but with three separate matches against the Blues this month, he surely will have a little extra enthusiasm.
- The upcoming schedule is a little crazy, but thankfully Spurs drew League One side Morecambe in Sunday’s FA Cup Third Round. This should allow Conte to play his best side this Wednesday, and probably in the second leg as well, even with a crucial North London Derby (and subsequent third Chelsea match) ahead.