Harry Kane’s 26th-minute penalty gave Spurs a win and a slender advantage when they go to Stamford Bridge for the 2nd leg of the semi-final. Both teams had chances to win the match, but failed to score from open play. Both managers had put out strong teams, as both are eagerly in search of trophies.
Chelsea came close twice in the first half when a Kante flick hit the woodwork, and a deflected effort from Hudson-Odoi was turned towards the post by Gazzaniga.
Chelsea played with the hand brake on as they wanted to keep the tie alive going into the 2nd leg. They must think they have a great opportunity to win the fixture at Stamford Bridge.
Here are three reasons why Chelsea failed to win the first leg.
#1 Ross Barkley is no Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas’ departure from Chelsea had much to do with the fact that Sarri trusts Barkley to take up the creative role from midfield. But Barkley has time and again proven that he is not up to that level.
His early season form had made the England manager hand him a comeback into the national setup, but a lack of consistency is hampering his transition into a world class player.
It was no surprise when Kovacic was brought on for Barkley in the 75th minute to force a result. Barkley looked ambitious in his passing, but sprayed too many wrong passes where the receiver had little or no chance to get on the end of it.
His best position seems to be the #10 role which he played so well with Everton, but at Chelsea he has been asked to play a bit deeper, with Hazard mostly operating in the #10 position and left flank.
#2 Chelsea fails when Hazard fails
Hazard has rescued the Blues in so many matches in the past that spectators expect the same from the Belgian in every single game, but that’s not possible. The fact that he has to play so many matches as the most important player in this Chelsea team makes us understand his tiredness in a few of them.
A League Cup semi-final is a match where a team like Chelsea should win without Hazard. This shows the lack of proper signings in the past 3-4 years, with no able backup for Hazard.
Hazard has spoken of his displeasure at starting in a false nine role, which gives him little space to operate and show his skills. Though Hazard upped his game in the second half, there was too much burden on his shoulders to deliver, and his teammates failed to share responsibility.
In fact, nowadays Kante looks to be playing in the advanced Hazard role. Sarri’s experimentation looked innovative at the start of the season, but now they seem to be a bit overboard.
#3 Jorginho’s lack of confidence
Jorginho was seen as the most important signing for Chelsea at the start of the season. His ability to influence games by sitting in the Pirlo like position was seen as a stepping stone for future success at Chelsea.
The Brazilian was pretty good with his short passing game and killer passes at the start of the season, but somehow he has faded away. Sarri was so confident in Jorginho’s ability to break-up play that he plays Kante out of position to accommodate Jorginho. Jorginho needs to deliver on a regular basis, as he is the fulcrum of everything Chelsea does.
Now that Fabregas is gone, Jorginho seems to be the most experienced player who should dictate play and help Chelsea win tough matches. The match also proved that Chelsea are short in the attacking third, and they need someone like Higuain to spur things up.