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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:416207: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews the EFL Cup fourth round London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Tottenham Hotspur play their second of three games in the space of just five days on Tuesday night when they face bitter rivals Chelsea in an EFL Cup London derby.

A place in the fifth round is up for grabs, but both teams must recover from disappointing weekend draws in the Premier League.

Match preview

The dust has not yet settled on the hotly-disputed manner in which Tottenham saw victory turn into a draw against Newcastle United on Sunday.

The handball penalty decision which befell Eric Dier deep into stoppage time led to an understandable outcry from the footballing world as calls for the baffling law to be changed grew even stronger after an already-controversial weekend in that regard.

It is hard to imagine many more gutting ways to be denied victory; Spurs registered 23 shots on goal, forced Karl Darlow into 11 saves and hit the woodwork twice in a dominant display, only for the most contentious of penalty calls to gift Newcastle a 97th-minute equaliser with their first shot on target of the match - the latest any side has scored with their first shot on target since records began.

Strangely enough, the man staying quietest on the controversy is Jose Mourinho, perhaps because he knows that his side simply do not have the time to dwell on the injustice during a brutal and unforgiving fixture schedule.

Tuesday's match comes just two days after that Newcastle draw - a turnaround which would have been bad enough without this second game being a notoriously full-blooded derby against one of their most bitter rivals and arguably the team Mourinho now enjoys beating more than any other.

A Europa League tie against Maccabi Haifa then follows on Thursday to make it three games in five days, and that pile-up does not improve much when you extend the time period either - by the time the international break comes, they will have played their opening eight games of the season in the space of just 21 days.

That tally could have been even worse had their third-round EFL Cup tie with Leyton Orient last week not been cancelled just hours before kickoff due to their opponents returning positive coronavirus tests, meaning that Tuesday's match will be Tottenham's first taste of this particular competition this season.

It is a competition which poses an interesting question this season too; Mourinho was brought in to succeed where Mauricio Pochettino could not - winning trophies - and, for the fans and players, ending a trophy drought which stretches back to 2008 could be as important as returning to the top four this season.

In reality, given the money and Champions League incentive for success in the Premier League and Europa League, the EFL Cup is still likely to be at the bottom of Tottenham's priority list this season, but it also provides their best chance of silverware - an interesting dilemma and a fragile balance Mourinho must try to strike.

Of course, it is a question which may be taken out of their hands by difficult opposition in this match, and it is worth noting that Spurs are still waiting for their first home win of the season, having picked up all three of their victories so far on the road.

Chelsea are by no means in top form themselves at the moment either, though, and if they defend as they did away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday then they are unlikely to have another stunning comeback in them.

Frank Lampard had a face like thunder after watching his side fall 3-0 down inside 27 minutes to the newly-promoted Baggies, and his mood barely seemed to have improved despite salvaging a point from that bleak position.

The Blues became the first Premier League team since February 2011 to avoid defeat after trailing by three or more goals at half time, and in the end had to be happy with the draw from that position.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that they would have gone into the game thinking that a point was a poor result, while the error-strewn performance raised yet more questions over the defence.

Chelsea have spent lots of money this summer but whether they have strengthened in the areas they needed to most remains to be seen, although summer arrivals such as Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy should bolster their leaky backline.

Regardless of whether they improve going forward, the stats right now make grim reading for Lampard, whose side travel to North London having kept only one clean sheet in their last 15 away games across all competitions.

Chelsea's best performance of the campaign so far came last week in this competition when they ran out 6-0 winners over Barnsley, with hat-trick hero Kai Havertz the star of that particular show.

However, they have been knocked out at this stage of the competition in three of the last five years, including last season when they slumped to a home defeat at the hands of Manchester United.

Spurs fans will remember fondly that Chelsea were their opponents in the 2008 final of this competition, when Jonathan Woodgate's header handed the club their most recent major trophy.

The two sides also met in the 2015 final, with Chelsea winning on that occasion, and Spurs have only made it past the fourth round once in five seasons since then.

Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions): LWWWD

Chelsea EFL Cup form: W
Chelsea form (all competitions): WLWD

Team News

Mourinho's moans are not always met with the most sympathetic ears, but his complaints over the fixture schedule - and the potential danger it causes to his players - are valid.

Certainly, the manager was in no doubt that the relentless run was behind Son Heung-min's withdrawal at half time against Newcastle on Sunday, and warned that more of his players would join the attacker in the treatment room in the coming weeks.

Son has since been ruled out for "a while" with a hamstring problem, joining Japhet Tanganga and returning star Gareth Bale on the sidelines.

Moussa Sissoko was due to be on the bench against Newcastle but withdrew 30 minutes before kickoff because of illness, so it remains to be seen whether the quick turnaround gives him enough time to recover.

Changes are inevitable for Spurs and, despite the strength of opponent and lure of silverware, it would not be a surprise to see Mourinho name an entirely different XI to the one which started against Newcastle after he admitted that it was almost impossible to fight on all fronts.

That could mean a debut for new signing Sergio Reguilon at left-back, while the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Toby Alderweireld and Joe Hart could also come into the team.

Despite all the changes, Dele Alli once again looks set to miss out, plunging his future at the club into even more doubt.

Chelsea have a less urgent need to rotate and rest players for this match with the comparative luxury of four days until their next game, but changes are still likely given the competition.

A defensive horror-show in the first half against West Brom could see a reshuffle, with Marcos Alonso - hooked at half time on Saturday - the first name out to be replaced by Chilwell.

Mendy could make his debut, while the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho will be expecting starts.

The match is likely to come too soon for Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic, while Billy Gilmour is a longer-term absentee.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Hart; Aurier, Alderweireld, Carter-Vickers, Reguilon; Ndombele, Fernandes; Clarke, Lucas, Sessegnon; Bergwijn

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Chilwell; Barkley, Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi, Havertz, Mount; Giroud

Head To Head

Chelsea have won the last four meetings between these two sides across all competitions, including the most recent EFL Cup clash and their only previous visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Blues have not won five successive editions of this fixture since a run of six ended in January 2002, while they are also looking to win back-to-back away games at Spurs for the first time since 2005.

As previously mentioned, these two sides have met in the final of this competition on two previous occasions, sharing the spoils with one win apiece in that time.

Tuesday's match will be their 11th League Cup meeting in total, with Chelsea edging the head-to-head record five wins to three in this competition.

We say: Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Chelsea

It is difficult to know what to expect from this match given the unusual circumstances in which it will be played, just two days after Tottenham's last outing.

Chelsea have more rest both before and after the match and should be buoyed by their epic comeback at the weekend, so we can see Lampard getting one over his former mentor Mourinho once again - albeit against a much-changed Tottenham team.

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