By ROB HARRIS -Japan Today
Just like in his first season in charge, Thomas Tuchel will be leading Chelsea into another final.
Antonio Rüdiger’s header sealed a 1-0 victory in the second leg of the League Cup semifinals on Wednesday to complete a 3-0 aggregate win over Tottenham.
Chelsea’s display was again so commanding that Tottenham offered little threat, aside from having two penalties and an equalizer correctly overturned by VAR.
That should trouble Antonio Conte, two months into his reign as Tottenham manager with a squad ill-equipped to win a first trophy since beating Chelsea for the 2008 League Cup.
Chelsea is into a 15th final since then, including the FA Cup won by Conte in 2018 to complete his two years in charge of Chelsea.
In the Feb 27 League Cup final, the west London club will play Arsenal or Liverpool, who meet in their delayed first leg on Thursday. Tuchel will be looking to add to the European Cup he won in May while experiencing a more memorable day at Wembley after losing the FA Cup final last season.
Despite the chance of using the second-tier competition to end Tottenham’s trophy drought, it wasn’t the strongest-possible team deployed by Conte with an eye on Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal and the bid to make the Premier League’s top four.
Captain Hugo Lloris was rested on the bench, with Pierluigi Gollini deputizing to make his first appearance in goal since an embarrassing loss to Slovenian minnow Mura in November.
The Italian could be faulted for the goal, flapping in the air as he missed the attempt to punch clear a corner from Mason Mount that went off the back of Rüdiger’s head into the net.
It was a calamitous way to concede, although not as farcical as Tottenham defenders being at fault for the first-leg goals.
Now only the FA Cup can end Tottenham’s 14-year trophy drought. Chelsea also remains in contention in that competition as well as the Champions League but heads to Manchester City on Saturday sitting 10 points behind the Premier League leaders in second place.
In a rescheduled Premier League game on Wednesday, Jarrod Bowen scored twice to lead West Ham to a 2-0 victory over last-place Norwich, dislodging Arsenal from fourth having played a game more.