Tottenham vs. Sheffield United: League Cup Semi-Final Preview and Prediction

Competition: Capital One Cup Semi-Final First-Leg

Venue: White Hart Lane

Odds: Tottenham 1/3 – Draw 9/2 – Sheffield United 8/1

Tottenham Hotspur welcome cup specialists Sheffield United to White Hart Lane on Wednesday night for the first-leg of their League Cup semi-final.

The Blades have been incredible in domestic cup competitions in recent times and travel to London looking to beat a Premier League side for the sixth time in 12 months.

The League One outfit have already beaten West Ham United and Southampton in the competition this year and they also beat Queens Park Rangers 3-0 in the FA Cup earlier this month.

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Spurs will need to be wary, though manager Mauricio Pochettino is ready to make plenty of changes, as this is the sixth game of nine in a hectic January for the Lilywhites.

Tottenham’s home record in League Cup: Played 3 – Won 3 – Drawn 0 – Lost 0

Tottenham are unbeaten in nine at home and have beaten Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Newcastle at White Hart Lane in the Capital One Cup this season.

Sheffield United are chasing promotion to the Championship in the third tier of English football and have only lost two of their last eight in all competitions.

Sheffield United’s away record in League Cup: Played 3 – Won 2 – Drawn 1 – Lost 0

Blades manager Nigel Clough always gets the best out of his players for cup games and Wednesday night should be an intriguing tie.

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Spurs will be looking to put one foot in the final with a victory, while United will hope to still be in the tie by the time of the return leg next week.

This will be the first meeting between the sides in eight years and Spurs have only won one of the last five against the Blades.

Tottenham’s last five in all competitions: W/D/L/W/W

Sheffield United’s last five in all competitions: D/L/W/W/L

Key Stat: Sheffield United have eliminated five Premier League sides from domestic cup competitions in the past 12 months.

Key Player: Roberto Soldado – The Spanish striker played well in last week’s 4-2 FA Cup win against Burnley despite missing a sitter and will look to end his goal drought by adding to his two goals in the League Cup already this season.

Prediction: Tottenham 2 – 1 Sheffield United 

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League Cup Semi-Final Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Chelsea

Competition: Capital One Cup Semi-Final First-Leg

Venue: Anfield

Odds: Liverpool 12/5 – Draw 5/2 – Chelsea 23/20

Liverpool host Chelsea in the first-leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie at Anfield on Tuesday night and both sides come into the game in full confidence.

Liverpool have won their last three in all competitions and are unbeaten in eight since losing 3-0 at Manchester United in December.

Liverpool’s home record in League Cup: Played 2 – Won 1 – Drawn 1 – Lost 0

They haven’t lost at home since early November, but they were beaten by Chelsea on that day and have a poor record against Jose Mourinho’s team in recent times.

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The Blues beat them 2-1 earlier this season and all but ended their title hopes late last season in a 2-0 win back in April 2014.

Chelsea will be confident as a result and will look to take their attacking form from their 5-0 win at Swansea into the game on Merseyside.

Chelsea’s away record in League Cup: Played 2 – Won 2 – Drawn 0 – Lost 0

A Chelsea win puts one foot in the final as they will be expected to win at home, so Liverpool must ensure that they remain in the tie come full-time on Tuesday evening.

Both sides will field strong lineups and Brendan Rodgers may bring Steven Gerrard and Adam Lallana back into the side after they missed the 2-0 win at Aston Villa this weekend.

Jose Mourinho will be without Cesar Azpilicueta but Thibaut Courtois could return after missing the last couple of games with a finger injury.

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This will be the sixth time in history that these two have met in the League Cup. Liverpool have won three of the previous five meetings, with Chelsea winning two.

Liverpool’s last five in all competitions: W/D/W/W/W

Chelsea’s last five in all competitions: D/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Chelsea haven’t lost to Liverpool in their last five meetings, scoring twice in the past four.

Key Player: Diego Costa – The Spanish striker scored the winner at Anfield back in November and looked back to his best as he bagged a brace at Swansea on Saturday.

Prediction: Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea

Will Eden Hazard take Chelsea to the next level?

Belgian superstar Eden Hazard was Chelsea‘s top goalscorer last season with 17 goals and he already has nine this term.

The 23-year-old winger has been improving with every game of late and is arguably in the form of his life. So he will be looking for success with Chelsea come the end of the season.

The Blues missed out on the Premier League title last campaign and were eliminated from the Champions League in the semi-finals, but Hazard and his Chelsea teammates will be itching for success in both competitions this term.

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He played an influential role in their short Europa League campaign of 2013 as they won the trophy, but his high standards have not yet earned him any other trophy while at the club. Something that needs to change this year.

Hazard is reaping the benefits of summer signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, as their arrivals have eased the pressure heaped on him.

With Manchester City joining the Blues at the top of the Premier League over the weekend thanks to their 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace, Chelsea have to ensure they overcome the tough test of Stoke City away tonight.

Hazard scored a wonder goal against the Potters at the Britannia in 2013 and will be looking to continue his rich scoring form in the final game before Christmas.

Don’t Miss: Preview and Prediction: Stoke City vs Chelsea

News out of Chelsea is that he is close to signing a bumper £250,000 a week deal to keep him at the club into the new decade, and Blues fans will certainly hope that is the case.

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Chelsea are still on the hunt for the quadruple and face Liverpool in a two-legged semi-final in the League Cup in a months time, and they will expect to go all the way in the competition to earn their first piece of silverware by March.

Hazard needs to keep on clocking up the goals and start winning titles to become one of the greatest Chelsea players ever.

With so much talk about the sensational winger from the Chelsea faithful of late, his performances have improved and he should be the man who takes Chelsea back to their glory days. Winning matches counts for nothing in the long run without trophies to show for it.

Will Eden Hazard win trophies with Chelsea this season?

Should Petr Cech seek a move away from Chelsea?

The ever-professional Petr Cech featured in Chelsea’s 3-1 League Cup victory away at Derby County last night but that is only his fifth appearance of the season.

His first team chances have been limited by the impressive, young Thibaut Courtois, who has adapted to life at Chelsea exceptionally well.

Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, had to make a difficult decision to drop the Czech Republic legend for Courtois as he risked losing him on a permanent basis after successful long-term loan spell at Atletico Madrid.

Cech has a decision to make himself on whether or not to call time on his 11-year Chelsea career.

Petr Cech has a number of personal accolades and has written himself into Chelsea folklore, with penalty saves in the FA Cup final and Champions League final (in the game and the shootout).

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He’s now in a similar position to Carlo Cudicini, the man who was a fan favourite at the club but was replaced by a young Cech in 2004.

Cech can take a lot from Cudicini’s decision to wait another three years of infrequent appearances to depart from the club, as he wanted to remain part of a history-making squad.

Cech’s Chelsea honours:

  • Premier League: 2004/05 – 2005/06 – 2009/10
  • FA Cup: 2007 – 2009 – 2010 – 2012
  • League Cup: 2005 – 2007
  • Champions League: Runner-up 2008 – Winner 2012
  • Europa League: Winner 2013
  • Chelsea’s all-time clean sheet holder

The difference between the two is that Cech has won almost everything possible with Chelsea and it could be time to seek a new challenge.

A possible destination would be Real Madrid, who have a decision to make themselves with the future of Iker Casillas still in doubt. The Spanish international has struggled for consistent form and there has been continuous speculation over where he will go next.

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A move to Madrid would see Cech link up with former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, with whom he enjoyed Chelsea’s first double winning season in 2010.

To this point, Cech hasn’t expressed any desires to depart but as we know, all footballers are frustrated at a lack of playing time, especially when many refer to him as one of the five best goalkeepers worldwide.

Do you think Petr Cech should move on?

Andre Schurrle must be used more often at Chelsea

World Cup winner Andre Schurrle has had a bit of a rough time so far this season, struggling for game time in the first team at Chelsea.

After a great campaign for both club and country last term we would have been expecting Schurrle to really push on and shine like we know he can.

Jose Mourinho has opted to play Willian and Eden Hazard as his first-choice wingers, with Schurrle making the majority of his appearances from the substitutes bench.

The German playmaker isn’t struggling for confidence, as he is always willing to give maximum effort when he enters the frame and he’s prepared to have a strike at goal from almost anywhere in the oppositions half.

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We all know he is a brilliant impact player, as he proved best when brought on in the World Cup final against Argentina in July, but he isn’t getting the minutes on the field at Chelsea.

He has netted just three so far this season from 11 games, but did get the all-important goal in the draw with Manchester City at the Etihad earlier in the campaign.

He is a brilliant option to have to come into a game but needs more time on the field. If Mourinho was to give him half an hour at least each game, Chelsea would reap the rewards of his work ethic.

His blistering pace would open up tiring opposing defenders and work in Chelsea’s favor if they are countering sides that are often pushing to get back in the game.

As for European games he is a good option to start. He has a wealth of Champions League experience already and is used to playing at the highest level without concerns.

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Schurrle has been featuring in League Cup games and will probably start in tonight’s away tie against Championship outfit Derby County, in what will be a tougher game than many will expect.

Schurrle must impress Mourinho – who is backing the winger, but the Chelsea manager claims Schurrle must continue to adapt to the Premier League despite being signed 18 months ago.

His boss is happy with Schurrle’s strike rate and Chelsea have shrugged off any suggestions they plan to offload the German in January.

So if he is an important part of the squad, he surely needs to see more action on the pitch and with the hectic Christmas fixtures set to affect all clubs in the Premier League, having a weapon like Schurrle ready to step in will surely keep Chelsea at the top of the table.

Should Andre Schurrle play more often for Chelsea?

Portland Timbers in for newly crowned Premier League winner?

Earlier today on Twitter, ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman reported that current free agent Joleon Lescott has been offered the chance to play in MLS with the Portland Timbers.

The Birmingham-born defender has finished the season with English Premier League side Manchester City, after a campaign in which he won two trophies, the League Cup and Premier League in his final season with the club.

The news comes after Futty Danso’s move from Portland Timbers to Montreal Impact was also announced today. It posed question marks over the centre back positions and the availability of Lescott would certainly fill the hole.

The Timbers only have one designated player in Argentine Diego Valeri, and so adding the former Everton man is a real possibility.

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In July 2010 Lescott was part of a Manchester City team that played against the Timbers at Merlo Field.

The move would also see the England defender take a significant pay cut but he would become the highest paid DP defender in MLS history.

His former clubs include Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and he is reportedly attracting interest from clubs such as Queens Park Rangers,  Turkish club Besiktas and Aston Villa, the club he supported as a boy.

The two time Premier League winner would be a great addition to any team, especially a side in MLS, and he would be the second British player to turn out for Timbers if he made the move after Scottish striker Kris Boyd made the switch in 2012.