Chelsea vs Tottenham preview: Spurs take 1-0 lead into Carabao Cup semi-final second leg
Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son will not be available, with the two England internationals both out until March with injuries and Son away at the Asian Cup.
Chelsea – Tottenham Hotspur (24 Jan. 2019, 19:45 UTC)
Spurs come into this game in the midst of an injury crisis hoping to secure a place in the final against Man City after a 1-0 win in the first leg
Chelsea must overturn a 1-0 defeat in the first leg if they are to overcome Tottenham and set up a Carabao Cup final date with Manchester City.
Spurs’ injury crisis worsened over the weekend after Dele Alli suffered a hamstring injury in the win at Fulham which will keep him out until March, to join Harry Kane on the sidelines.
This comes at the worst possible time for Tottenham as they chase their first trophy since 2008 in this competition.
Chelsea have recorded 20 points from their last 12 games in the Premier League, but four defeats have left the Blues just three points ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United in the race for fourth place.
The latest setback – a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday evening – was followed by Sarri questioning the desire of his players in the media, and it comes at a time when the futures of a number of their most valued players remain up in the air.
Sarri must attempt to focus on the short term with a February date at Wembley Stadium at stake, but there is little doubting that Chelsea have lost their way over the past two months and the pressure is growing on the recently-appointed head coach.
The team’s style of play is being criticised by the club’s supporters, but Sarri is unlikely to change his philosophy despite Chelsea potentially needing at least two goals to progress through to the final of this competition.
The West Londoners have not scored more than two times against Premier League opposition since October 28, and Sarri is seemingly pinning his hopes on improving that return with the addition of Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain.
The Argentine must sign before midday on Wednesday to be available for the game on Thursday night, and his presence may prove to be the difference when Chelsea go in search of the goals which they require to get past Spurs.
Sarri still has other quality players at his disposal, but a perception has been generated which suggests that Chelsea need a change and the arrival of Higuain may just act as the catalyst for better results in the coming weeks.