The Tottenham manager, Antonio Conte, and his Liverpool counterpart, Jürgen Klopp, have both said they would prefer to play one-legged semi-finals in the Carabao Cup amid rising Covid-19 cases and potential fixture congestion.
Conte, whose Tottenham side earned him a reunion with former club Chelsea by beating West Ham 2-1 in Wednesday’s quarter-final, said: “Honestly, if I had to decide, maybe it would be to play one game and not two games – especially, I repeat, for the situation we are living – but we have to respect the rules.”
The north London club have just recovered from a major Covid-19 outbreak and must rearrange postponed Premier League games at Brighton and Leicester, plus a trip to Burnley which was called off due to snow at Turf Moor. Whether over one leg or two, Conte is still looking forward to facing the club he led to the title in 2016-17.
“For sure it will be nice for me,” the Italian said. “I spent two amazing seasons with Chelsea and I enjoyed a lot, but now I am the manager of Tottenham and I am ready to give everything for this club. When you reach the semi-final, for sure in England to lift the trophy is very difficult. You find Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal [in the draw].”
Klopp made 10 changes from Sunday’s draw at Tottenham as Liverpool fought back from 3-1 down to defeat Leicester on penalties and book a last-four tie with Arsenal. The Liverpool manager, who named three academy players in his starting line-up, echoed Conte’s preference for a one-legged semi-final, even if it would mean playing it at the Emirates Stadium.
“I think it would be better with one game absolutely, but obviously what I say is not too important,” Klopp said. “If there are two games, then we will play two games. But it would be helpful if there was only one. The draw has us at Arsenal – I’m fine with that, we play there and see who is better and go for it.”
“I don’t just speak about player welfare this year, I have been speaking about it for six years or maybe longer,” the German added. “If the things I say would help more, I would say it much more often. But it doesn’t help. The only thing I do with these messages is I create headlines. They never arrive at the right places.
“Tomorrow we have a meeting at 4pm but it’s with the Premier League and not with the EFL [who organise the Carabao Cup]. I said it before, I would prefer only one semi-final. But I can’t see any kind of changes actually.”