'Conte's case for a Tottenham Hotspur spending spree'
- Credit: Nick Potts/PA
Chelsea eased past a lacklustre Spurs in the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday (January 12).
The gulf between the teams over the two legs will give Antonio Conte's case for a war chest a boost, however true the rumours about moves for Tariq Lamptey, Adama Traore or Jesse Lingard are.
Despite a deficit of just two goals, the cup tie felt over before the whistle was blown. Tottenham's abject performance in the first leg made a turnaround highly unlikely. And so it went, 3-0 on aggregate.
Both sides made changes but both had their big guns out. Kane and Lukaku both started, backed up by Moura and Werner, but it was it was a defender who put the match to bed in the first 20 minutes.
Gollini, in goal for Spurs, flapped at a corner and Antonio Rudiger's head was there to guide it in.
Chelsea had controlled the game to that point, and continued to dominate possession.
Kane had a sniff of a chance just after the half hour mark with a turn in the box and a blocked shot. From the corner the striker was inches from knocking in the ball at the far post.
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The next serious sight of goal for Spurs came when Moura fed Royal through, but the wing-back never looked likely to beat the keeper and his effort was tame.
Twice penalties awarded to Spurs were overturned by VAR, and once a gal was disallowed.
Rudiger brought Hojbjerg down, only for VAR to rule the foul was outside the box, though the defender could still have seen a red card. Then Kepa was adjudged to have taken down Moura, only for VAR to show that the keeper clearly won the ball.
On 62 minutes the ball was in the net from Kane, but again VAR intervened, the striker caught offside.
But to read too much into those incidents would be a mistake. Chelsea were far the superior team.
Towards the end of the 90, a medical incident in the crowd paused proceedings.
But the game was already over and that coveted silverware proved once again out of Tottenham's reach.
Since his move from Wolves, Doherty just hasn't found form, appearing indecisive and lethargic. It will take either some first-class coaching or a move to snap him out of it. But, to be fair to him, why is he being played on the left?
On the left
Reguilón is out but Sessegnon is on the bench. If he's not starting here, what future is there? It took over an hour for him to be brought on. A misplaced ball, a poor cross and a clumsy challenge were about all there was to show for it, before a snap shot at the end was blocked.
And on the right, Emerson Royal sees a lot of the ball, possibly because the opposition are relatively comfortable letting him have it. A shot in the first half never worried the visitors. Chances are going to come for the wing-backs and Spurs are going to need operators more ruthless than this.
If this makes it sound like the wing-backs are the problem, they're not. Jorginho and Kovacic schooled Winks, Hojbjerg and Lo Celso. They were stronger, faster and more composed. Early in the second half, Winks had a golden opportunity to feed Kane but overhit the pass. Skipp has been the star performer this season, but even with him in the team they're not performing at the top level.
Transfer, transfer, transfer
Sessegnon came on for Doherty, followed by Bryan Gil for Lo Celso, and later Skipp for Winks. The first two look a distance off premiership quality right now. By contrast, Chelsea's substitutions included Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante.
A backup left-back, a first choice right-back, a dominating central midfielder and a creative maestro have to be on Conte's immediate shopping list – more in the summer.
Lamptey would be superb signing but may already be out of reach with richer clubs sniffing around. Adama Traore would be an exciting gamble – but Conte does demand some defending from his wing-backs.
How Lingard would fit in is unclear, but it should certainly mean a move away for Dele Alli, who desperately needs game time, preferably on loan.
Lots of other names will be mooted in the coming weeks, but whether Conte gets what he wants, remains to be seen.