Chelsea vs Tottenham | Sunday 01 March | Wembley Stadium | 18:00
Premier League leaders Chelsea collide with their London rivals Tottenham in the 2014-15 Capital One Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Spurs hold some bragging rights in being one of the two Premier League sides to have beaten Chelsea already this season, and their stunning 5-3 victory at the beginning of the year was an odd result to behold. Spurs fans will undoubtedly cherish putting five past the Blues, but a 3-0 loss at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season does balance things out. Lifting the trophy is what will matter most, but who will have the final say? Let’s sum up both teams.
To Win Match
To Lift the Trophy
It’s clear that Chelsea haven’t been irresistible to watch in recent matches with only two wins and three draws in their last five matches played. In the first half of the season it looked like Jose Mourinho’s side might canter to the Premier League title but their stride is looking less assured now and the strain of challenging for trophies on three fronts is clear. The Blues still have a five-point lead at the top of the table and a strong chance of ending the season laden with trophies, starting with the Capital One Cup, in which they’ll be out for vengeance against Tottenham in Sunday’s final. Victory in that could prove a timely boost that could spill over into the Premier League and Champions League. Defeat, on the other hand, could further deflate a side who were thrillingly buoyant earlier in the campaign. But if there’s one thing we know about Chelsea is that they come alive in the big matches and with the tactical genius of Mourinho, the Blues will be expected to pick up their first piece of silverware on Sunday.
Nemanja Matic will miss the clash against Tottenham unless Chelsea's appeal succeeds. Matic is the central cog in the Chelsea machine, assuredly protecting the back four, mopping up where’s needed and so quickly turning defence into attack. It will be a big loss for Mourinho, but he has enough depth in his squad to deal with the situation and will likely call upon Ramires to partner Cesc Fabregas in the double pivot role employed in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation. If Mourinho has a potential selection dilemma, it is in central defence. Twenty-year-old French defender Kurt Zouma – who has been dubbed the new Marcel Desailly – has acquitted himself well when called upon recently having played full matches against Liverpool and Manchester City, and may see his name on the team sheet at the expense of Gary Cahill, who has struggled for form ever since he met Harry Kane. With the diminutive Brazilian maestro Oscar and the tireless Willian likely to line up alongside the ever-impressive Eden Hazard in a three-pronged attacking midfield, with the lethal Diego Costa upfront, Spurs face a daunting challenge.
Mauricio Pochettino has worked wonders at times in his first season in charge of Tottenham with his greatest trick masterminding Mourinho and stunning Chelsea along with the Premier League. There will be no element of surprise at Wembley. Instead, Chelsea will be rested and ready. The Blues have no midweek fixtures so the Special One’s men will have a significant advantage. Pochettino will have a hard time in deciding on his priorities with the Europa League in particular now posing a dilemma; does the Argentine go all-out in all three contests and risk injury or sacrifice some assets in Europe? A trip to Florence three days prior to the League Cup final certainly isn't the kind of preparation a manager would desire, but such are the demands of a club hoping to compete for major honours. Spurs have been at their most impressive under Pochettino when working tirelessly to force errors from harassed opponents. Last weekend, they were the team making the mistakes and West Ham could have put the game beyond them before Danny Rose and Kane cancelled out goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho. They will need to be at their high-octane best at Wembley and will rely on the in-form duo of Kane and Christian Eriksen to lead the club to their first major trophy since 2007–08, where coincidently they beat Chelsea in the final to lift the League Cup. Eriksen is constantly at the heart of everything Spurs do in attack and with Kane scoring on a regular basis, Chelsea’s back four will need to be solid as a rock.
VERDICT: Chelsea 13/20
All the signs are there for Chelsea to beat Tottenham in this final. Spurs play a tough midweek fixture against Fiorentina in the Europa League while Chelsea rest. Spurs have two classy players in Kane and Eriksen, but Chelsea have eleven stars. Spurs can’t match the Blues for quality and first against seventh says it all. The Blues have lost to Tottenham just once in their last eleven meetings with five victories. Back Chelsea for the win at 13/20.