Capital One Cup: Chelsea go up against Tottenham for a trophy that means a lot to both teams
Chelsea meet Tottenham for the third time in as many months with the first trophy of the season up for grabs at Wembley this Sunday.
The 2007-08 League Cup final saw Spurs beat us 2-1 after extra time thanks to a 94th-minute winner from Jonathan Woodgate, but the Blues are the bookies’ favourites in the repeat final of seven years ago.
Chelsea came out on top last time we did battle with Spurs in a knockout competition. We battered the home side 5-1 at White Hart Lane in April 2012 en route to our seventh FA Cup.
Recent history offers little insight into how this one could pan out, though. Chelsea had comfortably beaten Tottenham in successive matches on the trot until the north Londoners ran riot in our most recent meeting, a 5-3 demolition at the Lane on New Year’s Day.
(D) Chelsea 1-1 Burnley
(D) Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 1-0 Everton
(W) Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
(W) Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
(L) Fiorentina 2-0 Tottenham
(D) Tottenham 2-2 West Ham
(D) Tottenham 1-1 Fiorentina
(L) Liverpool 3-2 Tottenham
(W) Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Last Five Meetings
Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea (League, January 2015)
Chelsea 3-0 Tottenham (League, December 2014)
Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham (League, March 2014)
Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea (League, September 2013)
Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (League, May 2013)
Chelsea team news
Nemanja Matic is serving the first of a two-match ban after been sent off for reacting aggressively to a crunching Ashley Barnes tackle in the 1-1 draw with Burnley last Saturday. John Obi Mikel is also unavailable due to a knee injury, leaving the door open for Ramires to slot in alongside Cesc Fabregas in midfield.
There’s plenty of talk about whether Thibaut Courtois or Petr Cech will wear the gloves at Wembley. The Czech started every League Cup fixture prior to both semi-final legs against Liverpool, but Mourinho is expected to wait until a few hours before kick-off to make his decision.
Tottenham team news
Mauricio Pochettino has the luxury of being able to choose from a full-strength squad this weekend. The Spaniard opted to rest Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker for the trip to Fiorentina on Thursday evening, more than likely with one eye on today’s match.
Spurs have their own call to make between the sticks: Second-choice keeper Michel Vorm has played every League Cup game so far this season but there’s no reason why Hugo Lloris wouldn’t return for the final.
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard Costa.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Townsend, Eriksen, Chadli, Kane.
This one’s going to be tight. Neither side is playing at the top of their game, but both will be desperate to win and use this trophy as springboard for the remainder of the campaign.
The absence of both our recognised holding midfielders Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel isn’t ideal but it’s also no reason to write our chances up against Spurs’ midfield. Ramires is the most likely candidate to replace the Serbian and he must alter his playing style or risk being overrun in the middle of the park.
Without the security of having Matic or Mikel behind him, the all-action Brazilian must resist his tendency to bomb forward when the opportunity arises and instead focus on protecting the back four. If he can do that and afford Fabregas and Oscar more freedom, our midfield still looks relatively solid without the former Benfica man.
In defence, Jose Mourinho will likely turn to his favoured centre-back partnership of JT and Cahill to keep an eye on the in-form Harry Kane. The Portuguese is also yet to claim the first title of his second reign as Chelsea boss, so he’ll be approaching this final with meticulous care to ensure his men are well-equipped to topple Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
I think the match will go to extra time, but Chelsea will edge it 2-1. What are your score predictions?