Chelsea already knew the odds were slim. No team that has been clear by at least 10 points at the top of the Premier League after 21 matches has ever failed to lift the trophy.

The Blues travelled to leaders Manchester City on Saturday exactly 10 adrift and desperate to improve on their showing against Pep Guardiola's men from earlier in the season.

But a familiar foe once again brought their downfall as City sealed a 1-0 win that further increases their lead at the summit and probably has them over the horizon in the title race – at least as far as Chelsea are concerned.

Thomas Tuchel spoke with great clarity and assuredness as he addressed the media on Friday, accepting Chelsea were far too negative in their 1-0 defeat to City at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.

We say "defeat", but in reality it was as close to a 1-0 battering as they come. City tallied three times as many shots as Chelsea (15 to five), and it was a similar story in terms of touches in the opposition's box (34 to 11).

But there was little sign of a major improvement here. Tuchel flailed and flapped like a headless chicken on the touchline, his instructions ultimately powerless against a City side that smothered Chelsea with a high press that just seemed to suffocate them more as the game went on.

Initially, as much as anything, Chelsea just looked confused. Their bravery in playing out from the back was to be commended in some instances, but that mentality seemed to be completely at odds with almost everything else they did.

They would get into the midfield but then launch long balls out wide or to Christian Pulisic in the hole rather than for Romelu Lukaku to run onto. The moves would go nowhere.

 

There was no period of sustained pressure from Chelsea at all in the first half – in fact, they got to the interval without registering a single shot, the first time that's happened in a league game under Tuchel.

Lukaku, bar one early instance where he rolled John Stones before mucking up the final pass, cut a frustrated figure up top. While Chelsea's play in the build-up largely seemed unlikely to get the best out of him, his team-mates might have expected more attempts to run in behind the City defence.

The second half was just a few minutes old when such a situation did present itself, with Lukaku able to do what he's best at: running on to throughballs rather than acting as a target man.

Ederson produced a fine save to block Lukaku's effort, but it was the clearest evidence yet of how Chelsea were likely to hurt City – not that it was necessarily a sign of things to come for the visitors.

 

If anything, it served as a jolt for City, a reminder that, as good as they are, they weren't going to be able to sleepwalk to a win here.

City allowed Chelsea more of the ball, but Guardiola's men upped the intensity significantly with their pressing – the Blues started to find passing through the midfield rather trickier.

Eight of the nine times City won possession in the final third (Chelsea only did so once in the whole game) came in the second half, which was not only evidence of how they were able to impressively dig deep physically, but also highlighted how a team can take the game to an opponent even without the ball.

Of course, City relied on a moment of pure inspiration, which was somewhat predictably delivered by Kevin De Bruyne, who strode away from N'Golo Kante and saw his gorgeous curling effort find the bottom-right corner from 25 yards.

 

It was his fifth Premier League goal against Chelsea, making his old club his favourite opposition in that regard, and a figure bettered by no other former Blue in the competition.

In the context of the match, it also highlighted the differing fortunes of players with comparable pasts: both De Bruyne and Lukaku joined Chelsea as youngsters and ultimately failed to make an impression.

The midfielder now regularly lights up the Premier League, but his international colleague is back at Stamford Bridge and struggling again, albeit for different reasons.

But the fact of the matter is, Lukaku was brought back to turn Chelsea into title contenders – that now looks impossible thanks to another familiar face.

Thomas Tuchel remains confident Antonio Rudiger will sign a new contract at Chelsea.

The Germany international's deal expires at the end of the season, meaning he is already eligible to begin discussions with foreign clubs over a free transfer.

Rudiger has been strongly linked with numerous clubs, with Real Madrid seemingly chief among them.

The 28-year-old joined Chelsea from Roma in 2017, and while he has not always been first-choice having fallen out of favour under Frank Lampard, he has been a key figure for Tuchel.

All but four of his 19 Premier League appearances last season came after Tuchel's appointment in January, while he has started 20 out of a possible 21 matches in 2021-22.

Some fans are growing uneasy given Chelsea are cutting it fine to tie him down to a new deal, though Tuchel seems relaxed.

"Things are clear. Talks are going on and we are confident," Tuchel told reporters after Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final second-leg win over Spurs.

"Nothing has changed. Everybody knows the situation, let's wait and see.

"We have things to offer and he is the player he is in a Chelsea shirt and a Chelsea environment. He knows that very well."

Rudiger was impressive against Spurs, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win that takes Chelsea through to the final with a 3-0 aggregate success.

The centre-back's three interceptions was not bettered by anyone else on the pitch, while he also had the most touches (109) and successful passes (94).

What made his effectiveness in possession even more impressive was the fact he attempted 36 passes in the opposition half (sixth-most on the pitch) and completed 97.2 per cent of them – among the players to attempt at least 10, only Jorginho (97.4 per cent) was more accurate.

He acknowledged this phase in his career is the best he has had.

"I am enjoying it," he told Sky Sports.

"I think you have to see it about chapters, and I have enjoyed this chapter, I have enjoyed it so far. It is the best time of my career."

Antonio Rudiger scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat London rivals Tottenham 1-0 to seal their place in the EFL Cup final.

Thomas Tuchel's side put themselves well on their way to Wembley by winning the first leg of the semi-final 2-0 and they finished off the job at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday.

Rudiger's first-half header gave them a three-goal cushion and there was no way back for Spurs, who endured another frustrating evening as referee Andre Marriner overturned two penalty decisions he wrongly awarded to Antonio Conte's side, while VAR also ruled out what would have been Harry Kane's 250th goal in club football.

Chelsea will go in search of a second trophy under Tuchel when they face either Arsenal or Liverpool in the final on February 27. 

Romelu Lukaku came close to increasing the European champions' advantage when he shrugged off Ben Davies, but Pierluigi Gollini spread himself to keep out the striker's left-foot drive.

Gollini was at fault for the opening goal 17 minutes in, though, failing to deal with a Mason Mount corner and the powerful Rudiger rose highest to head home his second goal at Tottenham this season.

Spurs hopes of pulling one back were dashed when the VAR told Marriner to change his decision after he had awarded a penalty for a foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but Rudiger had made contact outside the box.

Marriner got it wrong again when he pointed to the spot early in the second half, the official discovering on the pitchside monitor that Kepa Arrizabalaga had made contact with the ball when he came out to deny Lucas Moura.

There was yet more frustration for Tottenham when Kane lashed home, but the England captain had strayed offside.

Play was paused late on due to a medical emergency in the crowd but, upon its resumption, Chelsea cruised through added time untroubled to take their place in the final.

What does it mean? Blues hunting more silverware as Spurs' wait goes on

That is now 11 matches without defeat for Chelsea and Tuchel is the eighth different boss to lead an English team to the final of both major domestic competitions, and the European Cup/Champions League. Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson, Rafael Benitez, Arsene Wenger, Avram Grant and Pep Guardiola are the others to achieve that feat.

Tottenham's 14-year wait for a trophy goes on, with the FA Cup representing their only hope of finally getting their hands on some silverware this season. Chelsea, meanwhile, have progressed from all 14 two-legged ties in cup competitions after winning the first tie.

Transfer talk no issue for Rudiger 

Rudiger's future has been the subject of speculation for months, with the Germany international only under contract until the end of the season.

The 28-year-old is reported to have held talks with other clubs, including Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, but his commitment can certainly not be called into question as he produced another commanding display. The defender has scored 10 times for Chelsea, but all of those goals have come at just three stadiums (Stamford Bridge, King Power Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium).

Gollini gamble backfires

Gollini made a good save to thwart Lukaku, one of two stops he made in the match, but the on-loan goalkeeper failed to command his area when Mount swung in a corner and he was punished by Rudiger.

Spurs fans may have been questioning why Hugo Lloris was watching on from the bench, but much of the damage had been done in the first leg.

What's next?

Chelsea face a huge Premier League clash away to leaders Manchester City on Saturday, while Spurs take on fierce rivals Arsenal at home on Sunday.

Erling Haaland is the hottest property in football right now.

It is expected that Haaland will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season although that is not confirmed.

The 21-year-old Norwegian forward is being chased by several big clubs.

TOP STORY – HAALAND SET TO DECIDE ON CLUB FUTURE

AS claims that Haaland is set to make a definitive call on his future as several top clubs circle for his signature.

Borussia Dortmund are set to meet with Haaland's representatives next week to discuss his plans according to Marca.

Haaland is being pursued by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

ROUND-UP

- Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has reached out to Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele about a potential switch to Italy, claims Telefoot. Mourinho worked with Ndombele during his time at Spurs.

- Football Insider reports PSG midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has no interest in a move to cashed-up Newcastle United having been linked with his former club.

- The Telegraph reports that Burnley's New Zealand international forward Chris Wood will undergo a medical with Newcastle on Wednesday ahead of a move to the Magpies.

- Tottenham have contacted Jesse Lingard's representatives to discuss a free agency move in the off-season from Manchester United, claims Football London.

- Sevilla's interest in signing Manchester United's Anthony Martial is fading given the Red Devils' demands for the French forward, reports Marca.

- The Mail claims that Marcus Rashford and Manchester United are set to open talks before the end of the season on a new contract.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Romelu Lukaku needs time to adapt to the physical demands of the Premier League, but insists he will not attempt to reinvent the striker.

The Belgium international returned to Stamford Bridge in a club-record transfer from reigning Serie A champions Inter in August.

However, the 28-year-old is yet to truly fire on all cylinders during his second spell with the Blues, amassing eight goals from 20 appearances in all competitions.

Lukaku was recently dropped by Tuchel following comments made in the Italian media, stating he was "not very happy with the situation" he finds himself in, while expressing a desire to return to the Nerazzurri one day.

However, the striker subsequently apologised to his manager and the fans, and was restored to the starting line-up for last week's EFL Cup semi-final first-leg win over Tottenham.

And Tuchel is confident it is only a matter of time until everything clicks into place for his number nine.

"Romelu had a huge physical impact in the game against Tottenham," he said. "Maybe he wasn't so spectacularly involved, but he was involved in playing a crucial part with his physical qualities.

"Once he adapts to the physical style of the league, there is no doubt he will have a huge impact. 

"We will not reinvent his style or reinvent the player. He can simply be Romelu, and then we are all fine, and then he will score because this is what he always does."

During his pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s second leg against Spurs, it was suggested that Timo Werner could provide a link for Lukaku similar to Lautaro Martinez at Inter last season.

Responding to the suggestion, Tuchel said: "He could be, but I see no reason that we should copy Inter.

"We have our style and enough possibilities. We can play with two strikers; we can play 3-5-2; we have the possibility to play three strikers.

"We played a 4-4-2 against Tottenham in the first leg. I don't mean it in a harsh way; the players need to show they are good enough to start. 

"We are not inventing new stuff to make players better or happier. They have all it takes. It’s on them to show it."

Antonio Conte insists Chelsea have "created the gap" in quality between his former club and Tottenham ahead of their EFL Cup semi-final second leg.

Spurs were beaten 2-0 in the first leg at Stamford Bridge last week; Kai Havertz on target for the hosts before a Ben Davies own-goal.

The Blues have progressed from each of their last 13 two-legged ties after winning the first leg, last failing to do so against Liverpool in the 2006-07 Champions League semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are looking to become only the second side – after Aston Villa in 1993-94 – to reach the EFL Cup showpiece after losing their semi-final first leg by more than one goal.

Following the defeat, Conte conceded the gulf in class by admitting there were no comparisons between the sides.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the Spurs head coach clarified those comments, acknowledging his former club are responsible for their superiority.

"When I speak about the gap; to reduce the gap, it means that I am not stupid to not understand the gap between the clubs," he said.

"It means that you have to improve the squad, the work and to have a project and vision. 

"The gap is a space that you have with other teams and I think that, in this moment, we are to work a lot to reduce this gap. 

"Chelsea work well, they win the Champions League and then invest a lot of money to improve their squad. This creates a gap, this is the truth. Chelsea have created this gap."

Conte also revealed that Tottenham are in negotiations over a new deal for club captain Hugo Lloris.

Now in his 10th season with Spurs, the goalkeeper's existing contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign, but the Italian is confident he will remain with the club.

"I think they have started talking," Conte added. 

"You know what I think of him, I have said previously he is our captain and a top goalkeeper. [He] has great experience and knows the club. 

"For me, he is an important player. I am not the person who renews contracts; that is the club, and they are the people that do this, but I am confident."

Antonio Conte has met with the Tottenham hierarchy to discuss January transfer plans, but also appreciates he must also focus on coaching and improving the players he already has.

The Spurs boss also appeared to deny speculation that Dutch forward Steven Bergwijn could be about to depart the club.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea, with Spurs trailing 2-0 after the first leg, Conte confirmed he has met the club's owners and the managing director Fabio Paratici to talk over plans for the current transfer window.

"It was a good meeting," the former Inter manager confirmed. "The owner and Paratici they started together at the start of this season and I came in halfway. A good meeting to speak and to tell them my thoughts about the two months I spent in Tottenham.

"But what I want… I spoke with the club and I had my thoughts about the situation and this is the most important thing. Then the club has to decide the best way to go. I don’t have expectations. I am a coach and I know that we have to solve many problems.

"For me, in this moment, the best possible way is to get the best from my players and improve the squad... This is the only way I can go to improve the situation, to improve the squad. Then the club knows very well our situation and it has to take the best decision."

Conte was also asked about recent stories linking Bergwijn with a move to Ajax, and the Italian responded by seemingly suggesting the player is still a part of his immediate plans.

"Bergwijn, he knows very well what I think about him. I consider him a player that can play all three roles, as a number nine and number 10.

"In my period at Tottenham, he was injured for a long time, but I showed him that when he is in a good physical condition I gave him a chance. He is a Tottenham player and he is very close to coming back.

"After the game with Chelsea he can start a training session. I can count on him. He is a player with different characteristics than Harry [Kane], Son [Heung min] and [Lucas] Moura. He is a player we don’t have in our squad."

Conte also confirmed that centre-back Cristian Romero is close to returning after missing the last two months with a hamstring injury. 

Romero became the second-most expensive transfer in Spurs' history when he signed for a reported £47m from Atalanta in August after Tanguy Ndombele's £53.8m switch from Lyon in 2019.

"Today, Cristian had a little part of a training session with us," added Conte. "He's very close to coming back.

"We're talking about another important player for us. We lost him for almost two months and I think we faced this situation in the best possible way. Cristian for sure is an important player for us.

"Despite this, the players who played showed to be good and improved. For example, Sanchez is improving a lot. Now, Cristian is very close to coming back and being available."

Thomas Tuchel insists Kepa Arrizabalaga is a safe pair of hands as Chelsea bid to end Tottenham's Wembley hopes in the EFL Cup.

Kepa has been Chelsea's preferred goalkeeper in the competition this season and has shone so far, but the biggest test awaits as Tuchel takes his side to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Chelsea hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg, but Tuchel promised there would be no complacency from his charges on Wednesday, warning that "anything can happen" in such a game.

What he is confident about is that Kepa has matured as a goalkeeper, after enduring rocky spells during his Blues career.

The Spaniard made three errors leading to goals in just 14 games last season, with only four goalkeepers across Europe's top five competitions making more.

He only made two mistakes leading to a shot in 2019-20, but Chelsea still felt compelled to find a replacement ahead of last term, with Edouard Mendy coming in to provide a more reassuring presence behind the defence.

After a fine maiden campaign at Stamford Bridge, Mendy remains the Premier League first pick, but Kepa has been mostly exemplary when given a chance.

"I never experienced Kepa nervous, not one single day," said Tuchel. "The good thing is, it was a very genuine trust everybody had in Kepa once we let him play.

"He was very calm, very focused. I had the feeling he does not need to show in this 90 minutes [against Tottenham] that he is capable.

"We trust him and he is capable. We have him and are so happy to have him and that's maybe the difference. We're happy for him that he can show it."

Since joining Chelsea in 2018, Kepa has played 116 games and made 10 errors in that time that have resulted in shots, three of which led to goals – last season's unfortunate bumper crop.

In the same period, Everton's Jordan Pickford has played 133 goals and made 20 errors leading to shots, of which 12 led to goals.

Liverpool's Alisson has played 154 games, making nine errors leading to goals, while Manchester United's David de Gea has featured 151 times and made 12 errors costing his side a goal, the joint-leader in that metric along with Pickford.

Tottenham's Hugo Lloris has been responsible for mistakes that have cost Spurs six goals in his 138 games since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, with such evidence suggesting the common perception of Kepa as being calamity-prone might be unfair.

In the EFL Cup alone this season, Opta data shows Kepa has conceded five fewer goals than expected, based on expected goals on target (xGOT), which examines the quality of shots he has faced.

 

Ahead of Kepa, Tuchel was toying with throwing N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva back into his matchday squad after recent brushes with COVID-19, although that hinged on them being given the all-clear by club medics at training later on Tuesday, with cardiac tests required.

"If we do it, it's a gamble," Tuchel said.

Wembley beckons, but Tuchel says it remains a distant prospect for Chelsea, despite their healthy lead.

"I would say we have no foot in the final," he said. "We play another tough match in a tough stadium against a very good team and a top, top, top coach."

Clearly Tuchel believes Spurs boss Antonio Conte will still fancy turning around the tie. Yet the fact Harry Kane has not scored in his last six encounters with Chelsea appears to bode well for Wednesday night's visitors.

Tottenham will be looking to become just the second team to reach the EFL Cup final having lost a semi-final first leg by more than one goal, after Aston Villa did so against Tranmere Rovers in the 1993-94 campaign.

"We need to be prepared," said Tuchel, "and it's maybe better not to expect too much because nobody knows what's going to happen. We had a very good match in the first leg, but it's over. it's the past."

West Ham were handed a tasty trip to sixth-tier Kidderminster Harriers as the FA Cup served up a David and Goliath tie in the fourth-round draw.

David Moyes' Hammers beat top-flight rivals Leeds United 2-0 on Sunday to pass their first test in this season's competition, and now face a game they dare not lose.

Kidderminster and West Ham are five divisions apart in the English football system and both sit fifth in their respective leagues – the National League North and Premier League.

A stunning 2-1 third-round win over Championship outfit Reading carried Russell Penn's Kidderminster through to the last-32 stage, and now the West Midlands side can prepare for the visit of top-flight high-flyers to Aggborough.

Cup holders Leicester City, who saw off Watford on Saturday, were drawn to travel to either Nottingham Forest or Arsenal, who went into battle at the City Ground on Sunday evening.

Among the Premier League elite, Chelsea were handed a home draw against League One side Plymouth Argyle, Manchester City will host Fulham, Liverpool will tackle Cardiff City at Anfield, and Tottenham will welcome Brighton and Hove Albion.

Manchester United, who face Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday, will face Middlesbrough if they come through the tussle with Steven Gerrard's side.

There was perhaps a tinge of disappointment for League One side Cambridge United, who were not rewarded for upsetting Newcastle United with another glamorous tie against Premier League opposition. Instead, they will entertain Luton Town of the Championship, while National League side Boreham Wood, who knocked out AFC Wimbledon, were handed a trip to Bournemouth.

FA Cup fourth-round draw in full:

Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United, Bournemouth v Boreham Wood, Huddersfield Town v Barnsley, Peterborough United v QPR, Cambridge United v Luton Town, Southampton v Coventry City, Chelsea v Plymouth, Everton v Brentford, Kidderminster v West Ham, Manchester United or Aston Villa v Middlesbrough, Tottenham v Brighton and Hove Albion, Liverpool v Cardiff City, Stoke City v Wigan Athletic, Nottingham Forest or Arsenal v Leicester City, Manchester City v Fulham, Wolves v Norwich City.

Ties to be played on the weekend of February 4-7.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has heaped praise on Lewis Hall following the youngster's impressive debut in the FA Cup win over Chesterfield.

FA Cup finalists in four of the last five seasons, the Blues cruised through to the fourth round following a commanding 5-1 victory over their National League opponents.

Hall, who has been with Chelsea since the age of six, produced an assured display as he played the full 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

The 17-year-old demonstrated wonderful persistence before crossing for Romelu Lukaku to score the Blues' third goal, while his shot was parried straight to Andreas Christensen, who headed in the hosts' fourth.

And Tuchel insists the teenager proved he was deserving of his opportunity.

When asked why he selected Hall, the head coach said: "It was his performance and attitude in training; the attitude he showed in our possession games and small-sided games. 

"He deserved to play; he is a nice guy and very calm. [It was] a huge opportunity at Stamford Bridge. He took his chance and was hugely involved in some of the goals. [I am] happy for him.

"It's clear what we demand from the players in this position. We have a very supportive dressing room and this is very good for the young boys. They have to step up and show what they are capable of, and they did again.

"I am happy with the attitude with how we started. We started strong and well. We decided the match very early and this is what we wanted."

Having appeared on the bench several times this season, Hall revelled in his chance to shine in front of the Stamford Bridge faithful.

"Ever since I was a kid being at Chelsea, this is what I worked towards," the youngster told BBC Sport.

"I saw my name on the teamsheet and I was shaking. It took a few hours to process it.

"To finally get the opportunity – and in front of my family and the amazing fans – it is an incredible feeling."

Chelsea eased through to the FA Cup fourth round after a commanding 5-1 victory over National League side Chesterfield.

Goals inside the opening 20 minutes from Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku put Thomas Tuchel's side well in control at Stamford Bridge.

Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech were also on target as the Blues scored five or more goals in a single game for the second time this season.

However, Chesterfield did grab a consolation in their first third-round appearance for seven years, as Akwasi Asante struck 10 minutes from time.

FA Cup finalists in four of the previous five seasons, Chelsea took the lead after just six minutes. Ziyech's shot ricocheted into the path of Werner, who found the empty net from close range.

Hudson-Odoi doubled the lead spectacularly. Receiving the ball on the left, the winger cut inside before bending a wonderful 25-yard effort into the far corner.

Lukaku made it 3-0 inside 20 minutes, the unmarked Belgium international turning home Lewis Hall's low cross after brilliant persistence by the youngster.

Hall was involved again just before half-time. His shot was parried to Christensen, who headed past Scott Loach for only the second goal of his Chelsea career.

Ziyech added a fifth from the penalty spot nine minutes after the break; smashing home after Calvin Miller brought down Christian Pulisic.

But the visitors did grab a consolation in their first FA Cup tie against Premier League opposition since facing Middlesbrough in the 1996-97 semi-finals, as Asante tapped into an open goal.

Thomas Tuchel says Antonio Rudiger's future is a "no-problem situation" for Chelsea and confirmed the European champions are exploring their options in the transfer market.

Rudiger is only under contract with the Blues until the end of this season and the centre-back is free to talk to clubs from overseas.

Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus are all reportedly eager to sign the Germany international.

Chelsea boss Tuchel says there is no need to "pamper" the 28-year-old in a bid to try and keep him at Stamford Bridge. 

Asked if he might need to take Rudiger out for coffees in an attempt to get him to sign a new deal, Tuchel said: "I don't know it helps if I take him for a lot of coffees, maybe it pushes him out!

"I don't feel like that he needs a lot of coffees with me. He's a guy who needs to trust you, who needs to feel the connection, to feel the trust. He needs to feel it by minutes and by actions.

"I don't feel that he needs a lot of words and a lot of pampering and coffee talks, invitations to dinners and whatever. He is a top professional, this is what he gives, he's very important.

"Nothing has changed, we are in talks. It's in good hands. I trust the club 100 per cent and I have full trust in my player, so it's a no-problem situation for me and obviously also for Toni.

"He can still deliver, he did a fantastic match now in a back four and so he's super-reliable. Nothing has changed, the points of view have not changed. Once something changes you will be one of the first to know."

With Ben Chilwell a long-term absentee with a knee injury and the likes of Reece James also sidelined, Tuchel confirmed the London club are looking to add to the squad.

He said on the eve of Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie with Chesterfield: "We are discussing in talks with staff and board, scouting check possibilities, like they always do.

"Given there are long-term injuries we are looking into the market. We are not under the very highest pressure. Things have to make sense for us personality-wise, position-wise and also for the quality. We have our options and check our options."

Tuchel says recalling Emerson Palmieri from a loan spell at Lyon could be an option for Chelsea and did not rule out another exit for Ross Barkley during the January transfer window.

Asked about a premature return for Emerson, the German said: "I will not give you any details, but I will not hide from the fact we have a long-term injury with Ben Chilwell.

"Of course, we know and appreciate Emi as a player and a person in general."

He said of Barkley: "It depends on what Ross wants and what the possibilities are. There is always a chance."

Tottenham have condemned a section of their fanbase that chanted homophobic abuse during their EFL Cup tie at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea beat Antonio Conte's team 2-0 in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

It has emerged there was homophobic chanting from a section of the travelling support during the derby encounter.

Spurs released a statement on Thursday making it clear there is no place for such conduct.

"The club is extremely disappointed by homophobic chanting from sections of our support at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night," the statement read.

"We work closely with our LGBTQ+ fan group Proud Lilywhites to create a welcoming and inclusive environment at our club and are proud to display the Progress Flag in our stadium on matchdays.

"No one should suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity, and we urge supporters not to use this chant.

"There is no place for discrimination at Tottenham Hotspur."

Thomas Tuchel praised the performance of the returning Romelu Lukaku after Chelsea's EFL Cup win over Tottenham.

The Blues took a huge step towards reaching the final after claiming a 2-0 victory in the first leg of the last-four tie at Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku was restored to the starting line-up after he was left out of the squad for Sunday's Premier League clash with Liverpool due to comments made in the Italian media.

The former Inter striker was quoted as saying he was "not very happy with the situation" he finds himself in, while expressing a desire to return to the Nerazzurri one day.

However, the Belgium international subsequently apologised to Tuchel, as well as the fans on the club's official website.

He played the full 90 minutes against Spurs – recording game-high tallies of three shots on goal and two on target – and the head coach was pleased with his contribution under difficult circumstances.

 

Asked what he made of Lukaku's performance, he told Sky Sports: "Good, absolutely happy. I was pretty sure he was not affected. 

"I see him on a daily basis. Even the last days, he seemed relaxed, fine with the situation and mentally moved on. 

"Romelu can handle pressure and adversity. It was a good performance; he contributed a lot to our defensive setup and had chances."

Tuchel also praised the focus and commitment of his players, although he believes they could have increased their margin of victory.

"It seems like a deserved win, an excellent result because it reflects the game," he added. "We could have scored more, but it is hard to score against Tottenham.

"We did create a lot – some huge chances – it could have been possible to score more.

"We never lost the focus; [we] never lost the commitment."

Chelsea put one foot in the EFL Cup final thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Wednesday's semi-final first leg on a chastening return to Stamford Bridge for Antonio Conte.

Thomas Tuchel, seemingly eager to put recent indiscretions to one side after an apology, reinstated Romelu Lukaku to his starting XI, though Chelsea's victory arguably said more about Spurs' defence than the hosts' attack.

The Blues were ahead inside five minutes as Kai Havertz punished a Japhet Tanganga error at the back, and a comical Ben Davies own goal had Chelsea cruising at the interval.

Spurs improved somewhat in the second 45 minutes but were fortunate not to concede more goals, with Timo Werner spurning a couple of excellent opportunities, perhaps giving Conte's men a lifeline for the return leg.

Lukaku should have made a swift impact when released into the box in the first minute, only to bizarrely opt for a cut-back that went to no one.

Spurs gifted them another chance soon after, though, and Chelsea took it – Marcos Alonso cut out Tanganga's dreadful pass and fed Havertz, who found the net despite Davinson Sanchez's best efforts.

The dominant home side made it 2-0 just past the half-hour mark, Tanganga's unchallenged headed clearance bouncing back off Davies and going in.

Spurs, who introduced Tanguy Ndombele at half-time, were brighter early in the second period, with Harry Kane testing Kepa Arrizabalaga via a 20-yard free-kick.

Still, the best chances went the way of Chelsea and Werner, who first shot agonisingly wide and then saw Hugo Lloris just about reach his lobbed effort after an exquisite pass from Hakim Ziyech.

A late Ndombele effort from Bryan Gil's pull-back was then well saved by Kepa as the Blues kept their clean sheet intact.

What does it mean? Chelsea in control of the tie

The last trophy Spurs won was via this competition in 2008 – on the evidence of this first leg, they will not be ending that drought in next month's final.

Sure, there was undoubtedly an improvement from Spurs in the second half here, but they could not really have gotten any worse – they failed to register a single shot in the first 45 minutes. Even then, Chelsea were still on another level after the break.

Conte has received a lot of praise for the impact he has had on Spurs in just a couple of months at the helm, but this was a reminder of how far they still have to go.

Fruitful from the flanks

Alonso and Ziyech were both impressive out wide for the Blues. The Spaniard was deployed as a left-back rather than wing-back but still got forward to great effect, making the interception and playing the pass for the first goal – that was one of three key passes. The only player to register more (four) was Ziyech on the right, whose use of the ball was often excellent in the final third.

You've been Tangangoed!

This was a day to forget for Tanganga. It was his poor pass to Emerson Royal that was intercepted in the build-up to the first goal, and then his header went in off Davies for the second when he was under virtually no pressure.

What's next?

These two will resume hostilities next Wednesday in the second leg at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but before that, both teams are in FA Cup action. Chelsea host Chesterfield on Saturday, while Spurs welcome Morecambe to north London the following day.

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