Zola: Chelsea will be at their best against Spurs

Assistant boss Gianfranco Zola says Chelsea’s players and supporters are keen to be at their best for the Carabao Cup semi-final with Tottenham.

Eden Hazard came off the substitutes’ bench to score six minutes from time in a 1-0 quarter-final win over Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, setting up next month’s two-legged tie with Spurs.

Tottenham beat Chelsea 3-1 at Wembley last month and the behaviour of a minority of Blues’ fans has come under scrutiny following alleged anti-Semitic chanting which the club wishes to eradicate.

Zola reckons Chelsea are keen to impress on and off the field next month, saying: “Everyone is very excited to be facing them again.

“We are happy because, some time ago, they gave us a good footballing lesson. We’re looking forward to challenging them again.

“There are a lot of proud players in our team. Of course they will want to play this game and show we were not the ones playing in that game. Too many players under-played.

“Some of them were hurt. They will be looking forward to it.”

UEFA is investigating after the alleged use of a chant by Chelsea supporters featuring discriminatory language, anti-Semitic in nature, aimed at Tottenham fans.

Zola added: “I have no doubts that they will respond to it in a proper way. We have fantastic supporters and I’m sure they’ll be supporting respectfully and in the Chelsea way.”

Hazard was not risked from the start due to a foot injury, but came on and scored the decisive goal, his 10th of the season.

“The difference was the changes we made. When Pedro and Eden came on, they gave us an extra gear,” Zola added.

“Eden is the type of player who can make a big difference when he comes on, even for 20 minutes.”

Hazard has admitted his future is uncertain, with his contract expiring in June 2020 as he ponders whether to seek a “dream” move to Real Madrid. Zola hopes to work with Hazard under boss Maurizio Sarri for some time to come.

“He’s certainly one of the players who has given this club a lot of satisfaction,” said Zola, who in 2003 was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player.

“He is 27, and hopefully he will stay long with us and become even bigger.”




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