The semifinal of the EFL Cup is upon us with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs remaining in the 62nd installment of the competition.
With 17 successes in this cup among the remaining candidates, the often-overlooked league cup is a chance at early silverware for the foursome mentioned above.
Here is a preview of the EFL Cup Semifinal matches.
Chelsea vs Spurs (1st leg 5 Jan, 2nd leg 12 Jan)
A London derby, a second straight in this season’s competition for both sides, will be the slightly more intriguing of the two ties as Antonio Conte will return to Stamford Bridge in the first leg. Having won the Premier League and FA Cup in his two seasons during his time as the Blues’ manager, Conte’s Spurs will look to haunt his former employers across the two legs.
While being unbeaten in 8 across all competitions since a shocking 3-2 setback at West Ham in the league, Thomas Tuchel’s side have only won 3 in that run. After back-to-back draws, both at home, the Blues will hope for more positive results across the two league cup matches. National League pacesetters Chesterfield will travel to the Bridge in the FA Cup between the League Cup ties.
As for Spurs, unlike their London counterparts, the Lilywhites are no longer in Europe. After a lengthy delay, they were kicked out of the Europa Conference League after not being able to play their last game due to COVID.
Having not won a trophy since their success in this very tournament back in 2007/08, the EFL Cup is the best chance of ending the long-standing drought this campaign. In between the ties for them is an FA Cup fixture at home to League One outfit, Morecambe.
This is also the third successive season that Chelsea and Tottenham have met in this competition, with both sides enjoying progression once each. Last season Spurs went through on penalties in the last 16, while in 2019/20, it was the Blues who reached the final courtesy of a 3-1 aggregate win in the semifinals.
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) December 31, 2021
Arsenal vs Liverpool (1st leg 6 Jan, 2nd leg 13 Jan)
Two of the Premier League’s top 4 will go at it in what very well could be a quality match. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will host the Gunners first before making the trip to North London a week later.
While the Merseysiders have submitted a request to have the first leg postponed due to the rising COVID cases within the club, it remains to be seen if that will happen, especially with Liverpool still in four competitions.
A defeat on Saturday at home to league leaders Manchester City stopped a five-game winning run for Mikel Arteta’s men, with assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg overseeing the squad then due to Arteta catching COVID again.
In the five wins on the spin, the Gunners found the back of the net 19 times while conceding just twice. Keeping that form up will see them have a great chance at progressing to the final. Their FA Cup assignment is yet another trip to Nottingham Forest, so expect the best possible team in both legs of this tie from the Gunners.
Things have not gone as well for the joint-record holders of this tourney. They have gone 4 games across all competitions without a win (in 90 minutes, they knocked Leicester out on penalties in the quarterfinals).
They have only lost two games all season, both on the road and both in the Prem. Thus, while they go into this bout as favorites, their recent form along with the injuries, players leaving for AFCON, and COVID might hinder their chances here. League One’s Shrewsbury Town will go to Merseyside in their weekend assignment in the FA Cup.
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) January 5, 2022
Like the other semifinal pairing, Liverpool and Arsenal have seen each other in the last two EFL Cup editions. On both occasions, they met in the round of 16, at Anfield, with both games going to penalties.
While the hosts got the advantage in 2019/20, the visiting Gunners had the last laugh last campaign. The Reds of Merseyside boast more success overall, with their 8 trophies in the EFL Cup dwarfing Arsenal’s two.
Five matches are left in the 62nd EFL Cup, with 100 thousand pounds, a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League playoff round next season, and, of course, bragging rights on the line.
It will surely be a tight set of semifinal matches, with Wembley awaiting the two victors. The final is set to occur on Sunday, 27 February. Until then, four will dwindle two.