FLASHBACK: Tottenham’s Teddy Sheringham-inspired comeback saw them hit FIVE past Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals nearly 20 years ago – and it’s a blueprint for how Antonio Conte’s men can go from down and out to shock winners tonight
- Tottenham have it all to do against Chelsea as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit
- Chelsea are heavy favourites to reach the Carabao Cup final on Wednesday
- Spurs thumped Chelsea 5-1 in the 2002 semi-final after losing the first leg
- Antonio Conte’s men could learn from their intensity and attacking flair
After the miserable showing they produced last week, Tottenham will be looking for any sign that they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and reach Wembley.
Antonio Conte is a talented coach, but has reiterated he is no magician. He will have his work cut out to inspire any kind of fightback against his former club Chelsea, following their comprehensive 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge.
The Italian has worked hard to overhaul the dynamic in the squad and inject some passion, intensity and tactical awareness into the sinking ship that was Nuno Espirito Santo’s regime, but his side will need to dig much deeper to even have a chance of producing a comeback after a flat first-leg performance.
Tottenham’s chances of reaching the Carabao Cup final have been written off after their comprehensive defeat against rivals Chelsea last week at Stamford Bridge
Antonio Conte has his work cut out if he is to inspire his team to victory against his old side
Nearly 20 years ago, Spurs found themselves in a similar situation against the Blues in the League Cup – then called the Worthington Cup in 2002. They were 2-1 down from the first leg at the Bridge and needed to come up with something special to reach the final. They did that and then some.
Tottenham have a rich history in this tournament – four-time winners and five-time runners-up, and had won the competition against Leicester in 1999. Against Chelsea they had something to prove, with Claudio Ranieri’s side unbeaten against them in 27 matches, and they had it all to do.
Two Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink strikes in the first leg had put Chelsea in a commanding position, with Les Ferdinand giving the Lillywhites a precious away goal. As things turned out, they wouldn’t even need it.
Glenn Hoddle’s men were right up for it from the first whistle and had no intention of settling into the game. All it took was one deep cross to the left hand side for Mauricio Taricco to run on to with just two minutes gone.
Chelsea are heavy favourites but Spurs can learn from a previous meeting with the Blues
Tottenham thumped Chelsea 5-1 in the 2002 semi-finals after trailing 2-1 from the first leg
His shot was parried out by Carlo Cudicini into the path of Steffen Iversen, who swept into the net and levelled it up on aggregate. The intensity was through the roof – Hoddle had made it clear what he expected from his players and they delivered from the first whistle.
Teddy Sheringham certainly got the message as he went in hard on Boudewijn Zenden in a challenge that would surely be a red card today – with the Dutchman taken off on a stretcher after just 10 minutes. The England striker then played a huge role in the second goal as his corner was swung in for Tim Sherwood to smash home to help Spurs take the lead in the tie for the first time.
So cruising at 2-0 at half time, but the game still on a knife edge at 3-2. One away goal from Chelsea would make things interesting – but Sheringham made their task an uphill one as he came up with the best strike of the night just after the interval.
Steffen Iversen got Glen Hoddle’s men off to a flyer by netting with just two minutes gone
A cross into the area was flicked on by Gus Poyet, and the former Manchester United star hit an absolute thunderbolt that flew into the top right-hand corner, giving Cudicini no chance. The roof had been blown off of White Hart Lane. Their Chelsea hoodoo was surely coming to an end, and Wembley was calling – but there was more to come still.
Of course it didn’t get much easier for Chelsea when Hasselbaink was given a red card in what was a bizarre case of mistaken identity – Mario Melchiot should have been the man sent down the tunnel.
And Spurs used their numerical advantage to grab a fourth. Quick work from Darren Anderton saw him pick out Simon Davies in acres of space on the right wing, and he was allowed total freedom inside the area to compose himself and lash home a fourth that went in off the post.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was given his marching orders in the second half to make matters worse for the Blues
Chelsea were truly at sixes and sevens here against a talented yet underachieving Spurs side who were playing with the verve and flair their supporters so deeply craved, and there was still time for a fifth to make this a romp. The brilliant Sheringham picked out Oyvind Leonhardsen, who only had to play a square ball across the area for Sergei Rebrov to tap in.
Mikel Forssell’s long-range piledriver restored the slightest bit of pride, but nothing could take any gloss off what was Tottenham’s night.
They ended a nearly 12-year wait to beat their rivals and were able to sing their famous song about which stadium they would be heading to the next month.
It was a special night for Tottenham as they ended a run of 12 years without beating Chelsea
Teddy Sheringham’s goals and creativity inspired the comeback that night
You can bet Conte won’t be delving into the archives looking for answers or inspiration, but there is plenty the current Spurs team can learn from that famous win two decades ago.
To start with – intensity. Spurs allowed last week’s game to play out like a training match. They were tentative and managed just two shots all night – the first of which didn’t arrive until the second half. Hoddle’s 2002 side had to go for it at the Lane and put Chelsea under pressure from the get-go.
Conte’s men cannot afford to make any mistakes if they are to overturn a 2-0 deficit and this well-drilled outfit under Thomas Tuchel won’t allow them too many opportunities, so they need a lightning-fast start and have to make the west Londoners feel uncomfortable.
The 2002 side were well organised and restricted Chelsea to few openings, relentless pushing forward on the counter at every chance. By contrast, last week saw Spurs put in a frankly shambolic display at the back. Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies were not nearly good enough – all three central defenders putting in shaky displays.
Tottenham were a shambles defensively in the first leg and must be alert and assertive
Back in 2002 it was Gianfranco Zola, John Terry and Mikael Forssell who felt despair
Tanganga gifted possession cheaply, which led to Chelsea’s first goal, with Kai Havertz’s strike deflecting in off a helpless Sanchez. The second was even more humiliating as the Colombian hacked down Lukaku to give away a free kick, with Tanganga comically powering a clearance into Ben Davies and back into his own net.
Tottenham never looked in control in any area of the pitch, with Chelsea having multiple chances to make this an even easier second leg. That is something Conte has to tweak on Wednesday night. Cut out the mistakes, play low-risk passes and be much more assertive and decisive.
Chance creation has been a problem area too for Spurs in recent weeks after being frustrated by Southampton, Watford and even League One side Morecambe. Opening up Chelsea twice without reply will be a stern task but a moment at the end of the first leg offered hope to what Spurs can produce when they click into gear.
Spurs have had trouble creating chances and need a big performance from Harry Kane (right)
Young winger Bryan Gil took his man on down the left and nearly left Christian Pulisic in knots with his skill and dribbling – skinning him before getting to the byline and hooking in a ball for Giovani Lo Celso to fire at Kepa from close range. It was Tottenham’s best chance of the game and you wondered where this level of invention had been for the whole 90 minutes.
Chelsea seem confident of sealing their progress to their ninth League Cup final and Spurs haven’t been given much chance of overturning this one. But the champions of Europe are not invincible and have looked vulnerable in recent weeks.
They’ve put their unwelcome publicity around Romelu Lukaku’s infamous interview behind them, but they had looked shaky in previous games. Their win over Spurs was the tonic they needed after a run of just one win in five league games.
Chelsea have been struggling with injuries and Covid cases and that’s affected their concentration and consistency. They’re prone to mistakes at the back and Spurs can exploit that – but Conte’s men cannot afford a repeat of last week.
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