Harry Kane gave Tottenham Hotspur a slender advantage going into the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Chelsea in a fortnight’s time.
We recap the main Fantasy talking points, relevant manager quotes and headline injury news from Spurs’ hard-earned 1-0 win at Wembley.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Chelsea
- Goal: Harry Kane (£12.6m)
- Assist: None
Pedro (£6.3m), Willian (£7.2m) and Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) all returned from injury to ease Maurizio Sarri’s fitness concerns in attack, although it was once again left to Eden Hazard (£11.1m) to provide much of Chelsea’s threat going forward.
Hazard was back in the “false nine” position for this encounter but cut a frustrated figure at times, regularly dropping deep to influence the game and visibly showing his exasperation at the failings of his surrounding team-mates.
The Belgian was often mesmeric on the ball but this cup tie only served to reinforce everything we previously thought about his Fantasy appeal: Hazard is still the excellent player he always was but there is legitimate concern about the hindering effect of the players around him.
Spurs, of course, would have posed a bigger test than Newcastle United likely will when they visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Debate still rages over whether Hazard is more effective when deployed on the left flank or centrally but there is little doubt that Alvaro Morata (£8.4m) doesn’t complement his playing style when in the Chelsea starting XI and the positive news on that front is that the Spaniard was sidelined for last night’s match after sustaining an injury in training.
Morata was said to have picked up a “minor hamstring problem” ahead of the trip to Wembley, though speculation mounts regarding his future in west London with a move to Sevilla mooted in the media.
It should be said that Chelsea were by no means anonymous in attack and registered almost three times as many shots (17 to six) as their hosts, though eight were speculative efforts from distance – the distinctly average Ross Barkley (£5.3m) being the worst offender on that front.
N’Golo Kante (£4.9m) impressed at both ends of the pitch and struck the outside the post with Chelsea’s best chance in the first half, while Andreas Christensen (£5.0m) spurned a glorious opportunity after the break when poking wide from six yards.
While Mauricio Pochettino heralded Paulo Gazzaniga‘s (£4.5m) performance after full-time, in reality, the Spurs goalkeeper’s five saves – two of which were from stinging Hazard shots – were fairly comfortable in nature.
Willian joined Barkley in putting in an ineffectual showing, though Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.2m) was a bright spark on the right flank before Pedro’s introduction: the young winger tested Gazzaniga early on before whistling a shot over, later seeing a deflected cross pushed onto the woodwork by the backpedalling Spurs custodian.
Sarri offered his thoughts on Hudson-Odoi, who has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich this week:
Hudson-Odoi in the last week has been very normal. I saw him every day in training and he was really very normal.
He is improving, in the last match he played very well and also today a very good match. He played like a player of 25, 26 years. A very good match with application, very good in the defensive phase, but he has been completely normal. Maybe he does not read anything [media speculation].
The Chelsea coach also shared his views on the game in general, highlighting the positives of his side’s display and their defensive solidity:
We deserved more because in this match we played better than the opponents. We were in control of the match and defended well against a team dangerous in the offensive phase, so we deserved more.
We played about 70 balls in the opposition box against 11 balls of Tottenham in our box, 18 shots against seven I think, five goal opportunities against two, so we deserve more. So I am really disappointed with the result but very happy with the performance, one of the most important of the season from my team.
We played with a very good level of application and determination, with the head and with the soul, and we played this way with continuity for 95 minutes. Usually, we have defended very well for 60 minutes and then we have had problems with the last 15, 20, 30 minutes. This time the level of application was the same for 95 minutes so I am very happy with this.
Marcos Alonso (£6.8m) once again attracted plenty of attention on social media after another below-par performance, with even Hazard showing frustration with his Spanish colleague.
The clamour among sections of the Chelsea support for Emerson Palmieri (£5.2m) to be handed a start is nothing new, of course, and Alonso hasn’t been rested once in the Premier League this season.
Even though Alonso flattered to deceive for much of the evening, he could still have registered an attacking return: it was the Chelsea left-back’s cross that Kante turned onto the post and the much-maligned Spain international was prominent in the Spurs box late on, seeing one goalbound effort blocked by Kieran Trippier (£6.1m).
That potential to haul even when turning in substandard displays is what keeps many FPL managers interested in Alonso, though it is now ten league matches without an attacking return for the premium defender who registered seven assists in the first 11 Gameweeks of the season.
This was a restrained performance from Spurs, with the Lilywhites posing little attacking threat all evening and having to soak up plenty of pressure in the second half as they hung on to their one-goal advantage.
Gazzaniga apart, this was Spurs’ strongest available line-up but the likes of Son Heung-min (£8.8m), Dele Alli (£8.9m) and Christian Eriksen (£9.3m) didn’t have a significant impact on the game – save for a bright start from the Korean midfielder – as the hosts only saw 42% of possession.
Son and Alli didn’t register a single shot on goal or key pass between them, while Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.6m) comfortably dealt with Eriksen’s only attempt on target from distance.
This was an EFL Cup semi-final first leg, of course, and Pochettino highlighted the different approach his side had to take for this encounter:
I think we were playing a final. Of course, it’s a different approach when you’re playing the Carabao Cup or Premier League or Champions League.
I think we need to give the credit to Chelsea. We’re talking about players like Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Hazard, Willian, unbelievable players who when they want to play, when they feel the energy, when they need to push, they give the extra, they are great players. We need to see that we were playing against one of the best teams in the last five years or ten years. I think Chelsea were the club that won the most titles in England and Europe.
Of course we are from the beginning competing in this type of level and of course we need to feel very happy and of course today we competed on the same level as one of the best teams in Europe.
Harry Kane (£12.6m) was Spurs’ match-winner on Tuesday evening, the Spurs forward scoring from the spot after Kepa had upended him.
The intervention of VAR, set to be introduced in the Premier League in 2019/20, yet again hinted just how important designated penalty takers could be to our FPL squads next season.
Kane battled manfully with little service up top, stinging Kepa’s hands with a bicycle kick in the opening exchanges and then a decent effort from distance after half-time.
The England striker earned more praise from his manager after the game:
Yes, I think [Gazzaniga] was very good. I am so happy with his performance. For me, he was the man of the match, and with Harry Kane of course who scored the goal, I think he was so good.
Kane himself added:
For me, it’s just about staying fit and healthy. It was a tough year last year, a lot of games, coming off the back of a World Cup, not much rest. It was just about staying fit and healthy.
If I’m on the pitch, I feel like I can score goals.
We’re in a busy period, it’s just to stay as fresh as I can.
While Gazzaniga was lauded by his manager, Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m) deserves credit for his commanding display at the back alongside Davinson Sanchez (£5.8m).
Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) made a few early surges forward and provided the cross for Kane’s overhead kick along with two other chances, though he and Danny Rose (£5.8m) were pegged back in the second half and had little chance to impress in an attacking sense as the game wore on.
Erik Lamela (£6.1m) returned from illness and injury as a 79th-minute substitute, with Son the man to make way and possibly being preserved for his final Spurs appearance before his departure for the Asian Cup.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-4-2 diamond): Gazzaniga; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose; Winks (Skipp 89′), Sissoko, Eriksen (Llorente 90+1′), Alli; Kane, Son (Lamela 79′).
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 75′); Willian (Pedro 63′), Hazard, Hudson-Odoi (Giroud 79′).
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