5 Things we learned as Tottenham Hotspur beat Chelsea in Carabao Cup

By James Nalton, Football Whispers

Tottenham Hotspur will take a one-goal lead to Stamford Bridge after Harry Kane’s penalty gave them victory at Wembley in the first leg of Tuesday's Carabao Cup semi-final tie against Chelsea.

Chelsea will feel they should have scored at least one goal, and the only big chance they conceded to Spurs came thanks to a generous call from the VAR.

There were a number of standout performers in blue, but none could find the net, while Kane did what he does best and took the once chance he was given from the penalty spot.

Here are five things we learned from the clash between two of London’s soccer giants.

1. Chelsea aren’t a one-man team

Eden Hazard is one of the best players in the world at the moment. Even though his output in terms of goals and assists is sometimes questioned when this suggestion is made, there are few players better to watch.

This can lead to accusations that Chelsea are a one-man team, but on Thursday N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rüdiger, and Callum Hudson-Odoi all showed why they are important parts of this team. Or, in Hudson-Odoi’s case, the squad.

Kanté has grown into arguably the most important player in the midfield, becoming a more extreme version of the box-to-box midfielder he’s always shown he can be.

2. Chelsea need their own Harry Kane
 

The away side dominated for large periods of this game, enjoying 58 per cent of the possession and outshooting Spurs by 17 shots to six.

However, they were unable to make this count on the scoresheet and, though they worked well around the box, struggled when it came to finishing off the chances they created. 

Centre-back Andreas Christensen missed the Blues' best opportunity, while Kanté went close with a good effort from a narrow angle after a great run across goal.

But Chelsea’s problem remains the same. They could do with a striker in the mould of Kane, and maybe every team could, but Chelsea especially seem to be lacking in the centre-forward department making rumours of a move for Gonzalo Higuaín welcome news for coach Maurizio Sarri.

3. VAR has trouble with offside

This game was not without controversy as its only goal relied heavily on a decision for the Video Assistant Referee – a decision which looks to have been called incorrectly.

Chelsea head coach Sarri was pleased with his side's display as they dominated for large periods of the game but was less pleased with the use of the VAR which incorrectly adjudged Kane to be onside in the build-up to the game’s key moment.

Viewers were treated to a look at the VAR process as the pitch was split up into chunks to create lines across the pitch to make an accurate offside call. 

However, the line went to Kane’s feet, which were onside, but he was leaning forward so that his head was in an offside position. The VAR made the wrong call, Kane was adjudged to be onside, and the VAR then watched the rest of the play in that sequence, awarding a penalty for a foul on Kane by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa.

"Offside with the head, the knee – offside,” said Sarri, speaking to Sky Sports.

“It was really important the linesman carried on running, he had a big impact on our defenders. I don't think English referees are able to use the system.”

For the record, the linesman made the right call, raising his flag for offside...

4. Spurs want the cup

Mauricio Pochettino sent out an almost full-strength side with only goalkeeper Hugo Lloris afforded a night off. 

But the Spurs lineup showed the Argentine head coach is taking this competition seriously and wants to add a trophy to the cabinet so he has something tangible to show for his tenure. 

That was underlined by the fact Kane made his first League Cup start in 1,204 days – his last coming against Arsenal in September 2015.

Tottenham will want to move into their new stadium with a shiny new trophy to put in the cabinet, and a 1-0 lead going into the second leg at Chelsea has put them in a good position.

5. Hazard is not a false 9

It’s often the case when midfielders or wingers are selected in the centre-forward position that they are labelled a false 9 – a description traditionally reserved for strikers who drop into midfield to pull central defenders out of position allowing others to move into the gaps they create. 

Though Hazard does drop deep, he does enough traditional centre-forward work not to be labelled a false nine and is more of a complete striker when he plays in the role. He uses his creativity and his dribbling skill but also works his way into advanced positions.

The average positions from the game show that he was ahead of both Chelsea's wingers – and in the centre of the pitch. The data also shows Kane had more touches in his own half than Hazard, and he’d never be labelled a false nine, so Hazard shouldn’t be either.

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