Preview: Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur go up against each other in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
The tie that pits Spurs coach Antonio Conte against the club with which he won every domestic competition apart from this one.
Chelsea team news
The Blues will be without first-choice wing-backs Ben Chilwell (cruciate ligament) and Reece James (hamstring), while centre-back Andreas Christensen (back) is also expected to remain on the sidelines.
Coach Thomas Tuchel fielded fringe players, including Saul Niguez and Ross Barkley, and youngsters Jude Soonsup-Bell and Harvey Vale in the quarter-final win over Brentford.
It remains to be seen whether being a step closer to silverware prompts him to name a stronger team for the semi-finals.
Tottenham team news
Tottenham are likely to be without the injured trio of centre-back Cristian Romero (hamstring) and wingers Ryan Sessegnon (muscular) and Steven Bergwijn (calf).
Boss Antonio Conte named a strong lineup for the 2-1 win over West Ham United in the quarter-finals, so he is unlikely to field a weakened team for the next round of the competition. The Italian is more likely to rest players for this weekend’s FA Cup third round clash with League One side Morecambe, which means star striker Harry Kane, first-choice keeper Hugo Lloris and Conte’s preferred back-three of Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier and Ben Davies could all start at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s quarter-final win at Brentford was one of only two wins for the Blues in their six games since beating Leeds on 11 December. They have drawn Premier League game against Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Liverpool in a run of results that has taken the sting out of their Premier League title challenge.
Tuchel’s side were 0-3 winners when the two sides met at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in September. They are second in the Premier League table, but are now 10 points behind leaders Manchester City and could be leapfrogged by Liverpool should the Reds pick up all three points from their game in hand.
Spurs are on a run of two wins and a draw since their quarter-final win over the Hammers, with a disappointing 1-1 draw against 10-man Southampton sandwiched by a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and a 0-1 away win at Watford on New Year’s Day.
They are currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League table, but could move into the top four at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal if they win their two games in hand.
Chelsea vs Tottenham betting
Hosts Chelsea are the bookmakers’ favourites to emerge with the win from the semi-final first leg with an advantage. Most bookies are offering Evens on the Blues victory. You can get odds of 11/4 on Spurs taking an advantage into their home leg, while the draw is at 12/5.
But with a derby game like this one, a bet on the outcome might be as much of a game of luck as a roll of the dice at the Hyperino Casino. It is definitely the sort of match that could easily go either way.