Tottenham will be hoping that the EFL Cup provides some brief respite from their worsening Premier League form when they take on Championship side Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday night.
A place in the semi-finals is up for grabs as Stoke aim to reach the last four for only the second time since 1971-72, while Spurs continue their search for a first trophy since last lifting this one in 2008.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho pictured on December 16, 2020
It was only a week ago that Tottenham Hotspur were being touted as genuine Premier League title contenders, sitting as they were at the top of the table with a proven winner at the helm.
However, back-to-back defeats against fellow high-flyers Liverpool and Leicester City – coupled with a draw at Crystal Palace before that – have seen Jose Mourinho’s side plummet from first to fifth in the space of seven days, serving as a reality check for those who had dared to begin dreaming of a first league title in 60 years.
The drought in this competition is not quite as long, but their 2008 triumph remains their last piece of silverware of any kind and so this match will still hold plenty of importance for Mourinho, who has already lifted the trophy four times as a manager and has progressed from 26 of his 31 League Cup ties in the past.
Only North London rivals Arsenal have appeared at this stage of the competition more often than Spurs, and they could not have hoped for a kinder draw against the lowest-ranked team still in this season’s tournament.
Tottenham saw their first-round meeting with Leyton Orient cancelled due to COVID-19 tests and so have only had to overcome one hurdle en route to the quarter-finals – although that was a significant one as they shrugged off an incredibly busy schedule to beat Chelsea on penalties.
Remarkably, Tottenham’s last three EFL Cup ties have all gone to a penalty shootout including their exits in the past two seasons at the hands of Chelsea and Colchester United respectively, and they could become only the second side in the competition’s history to go to four shootouts in a row – after Leicester from September 2018 to August 2019.
Stoke would probably take a penalty shootout considering the quality at Tottenham’s disposal, although they will take heart from the fact that they have already beaten Premier League sides Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa in this season’s competition.
Stoke 0-3 Tottenham