Tottenham's resurgence under Antonio Conte continued as they reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals

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The Conte effect continues at Spurs

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup quarter-final clash between Tottenham and West Ham

Against Liverpool it was Dele Alli and Harry Winks who were the latest players showing the impact of Antonio Conte’s arrival at Tottenham. Against West Ham, goalscorers Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn underlined their renaissance under the Italian as Spurs triumphed 2-1.

They were not alone – Harry Kane, Oliver Skipp and Hugo Lloris were among several other Spurs players to catch the eye in a frantic, fun pre-Christmas London derby – and that is testament to the coaching quality of the new Tottenham boss.

The draw for the final four of the Carabao Cup will spark reminders of how formidable his Chelsea team were in their Premier League title win. While Spurs are still some way off that level, the signs of improvement are clearly there now for this Tottenham team.

Tottenham's resurgence under Antonio Conte continued as they reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals
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Tottenham’s resurgence under Antonio Conte continued as they reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals

They are rejuvenated and reinvigorated from the sullen days under Nuno Espirito Santo, they are playing with energy and desire and showing resolve too, by bouncing back from West Ham’s quick equaliser and then holding out under pressure in the latter stages.

They will need plenty of all of the above when they face Chelsea across two legs in January if they are to match last season’s run to the final of this competition. But while Wembley is just a couple of games away, the bigger picture is becoming a positive one in north London.
Peter Smith

Too much, too young?

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup quarter-final match between Liverpool and Leicester

There was plenty to like about Liverpool’s performance against Leicester. But even holding their own in open play before half-time, they could have been 4-1 down.

Jurgen Klopp’s triple substitution at the break, bringing off three of the young guns who had started the Carabao Cup quarter-final, made a statement. Not that they had disgraced the shirt, but together their combined youthful mistakes proved too much against a largely experienced opposing line-up.

In the second half the pressure from the home side, with Diogo Jota, James Milner and Ibrahima Konate, was relentless. Even had Jota not given Liverpool hope midway through the second period, or Milner not set up Takumi Minamino to equalise in the final minute, it would have been the right call.

Klopp has never been averse to blood youth into the Liverpool squad. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones are the most prominent examples, but Neco Williams and Caoimhin Kelleher, among others, have also spent plenty of time in the first-team dressing room.

These young guns will make mistakes. That’s not to say ‘you can’t win anything with kids’ – that’s never turned out well – but with Kelleher, Williams, Billy Koumetio, Tyler Morton and Conor Bradley all on the pitch at once, it presented a problem against quality opposition.

Fitness and a packed schedule played a part in Klopp’s selection and the half-time change should not be looked at as a snub.

If these guys are back playing U23 football at the weekend, they will be all the better for having faced Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans in one evening.
Ron Walker

Tuchel finds winning blend, eventually

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup quarter-final clash between Brentford and Chelsea

In the end it took five changes from Thomas Tuchel before they found the breakthrough at Brentford.

The German had handed senior debuts to Jude Soonsup-Bell (17), Xavier Simons and Harvey Vale (both 18), while also giving Saul Niguez and Ross Barkley further chances to impress in midfield and attack respectively.

The breakthrough did not come, however, until all three teenagers and Barkley were removed. N’Golo Kante provided the spark as he set Reece James on his way to cross for Pontus Jansson’s own goal, and Christian Pulisic won the penalty which Jorginho converted.

Tuchel has made it clear he is running short of options as his side continues to fight on all fronts. Some sympathy with the three debutants, particularly for Soonsup-Bell who was somewhat ruthlessly withdrawn at half-time. But the others have not done much to suggest they are ready for a Premier League start any time soon.

Chelsea fans will look and wonder why Conor Gallagher is at Crystal Palace while Barkley remains at Stamford Bridge. And Saul has a lot more to do to prove he should not be booked onto the first flight back to Madrid on January 1.
Simeon Gholam

Nketiah provides Arteta with food for thought

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup quarter-final match between Arsenal and Sunderland

It may have been against League One opposition, but with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still out in the cold, Eddie Nketiah did himself no harm with his lethal performance in front of goal for Arsenal on Tuesday night.

Three clinical, instinctive finishes would certainly have provided food for thought for Mikel Arteta ahead of a busy run of fixtures during the winter. The Gunners boss made it clear he wanted Nketiah to stay at the club, as he continues to be linked with a move away, while the striker himself made it clear in his post-match interview that he is desperate for more minutes.

Unfortunately for him, Arsenal are in great nick right now, and Gabriel Martinelli’s recent resurgence seems to have closed the door on at least one spot in their Premier League attack. Still, all Nketiah can do is keep performing when called upon, and he will hope he has done enough to be seen in action again before the semi-final in early January.

“Eddie does what he does in training every day, he put the ball in the net,” Arteta told Sky Sports after the game. “I think I’ve been very consistent with what I think about him, how much we like him and his contribution for us every time he plays is top.

“I want [him to stay], but he just wants more minutes. It’s difficult to go against that, but as a club and personally I really want him to stay here. That’s what we are trying to do, he’s our player and a really important part of the squad.”
Simeon Gholam



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