Capital One Cup final: 5 key managerial decisions for Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur
The goalkeeper selection issue
Both Mourinho and Pochettino have key decisions to make in between the sticks, with Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech competing for a starting spot for Chelsea, while Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are vying to take place behind the Spurs defence.
Mourinho has the luxury of being able to call on two world class shotstoppers. Cech may have lost his place to Courtois at the beginning of the season, but he has been a consistent performer when called on in the absence of the Belgian. Cech boasts the best save success rate (88.9%) of all Premier League goalkeepers this season, a significant improvement on Courtois’ return (68.2%).
The young Belgian shipped 5 at White Hart Lane earlier in the season, and while Courtois started, and impressed in, both semi-final meetings with Liverpool, Mourinho could opt for the more experienced Cech at Wembley.
For Spurs, Pochettino has persisted with Vorm as his cup goalkeeper this campaign, with the Dutchman starting every one of their games on the way to this final. The question here is whether he remains loyal to Vorm and persists with the summer signing or starts Lloris for Spurs’ biggest game of the season.
The north London side are a far stronger team with the Frenchman in between the sticks, while Lloris’ WhoScored rating (6.95) ranks among the top 5 of all goalkeepers to feature more than once in England’s top tier this term. Vorm looked shaky over the two legs against Sheffield United, while a fatal error saw Spurs exit the FA Cup in the 4th round at the expense of Leicester back in January.
It will be merciless of Pochettino to axe Vorm for the final given his outings have come in cup competitions only, but it would certainly be in Spurs' best interests for Lloris to start against Chelsea on Sunday.
Does Pochettino select Nacer Chadli or Mousa Dembélé in midfield?
Nacer Chadli started Spurs’ 2-0 defeat in Florence on Thursday night, but was withdrawn after 63 minutes. Similarly, Mousa Dembélé featured from the off in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham, yet was substituted at half time following an underwhelming opening 45 minutes. It’s in the attacking midfield trio where Pochettino has a decision to make between these players.
Dembélé has impressed - to a degree - in the number 10 role behind Harry Kane in recent weeks, yet struggled against the Hammers. The physicality he brings to the position could prove vital against a Chelsea side without Matic and thus help in Spurs’ quest to control the midfield. However, it was Chadli who played a key role when these two teams met on New Year’s Day, providing the assist for Kane’s second goal, before turning goalscorer himself with a little over 10 minutes to play.
The winger impressed in the 5-3 victory over Chelsea, as echoed in his WhoScored rating that day (9.10). He would also allow Christian Eriksen to start in a central position behind Kane, which would surely benefit Spurs.
Chadli’s aerial strength would provide another route to goal, while defensively, he could help limit Branslav Ivanovic’s influence from right-back, especially if Chelsea aim to utilise the Serb's strength in air. The temptation to power through the midfield is there, though, and should Pochettino opt for this tack, Dembélé would be the better option from the start.