Let’s move aside from the nerve-wrecking European actions, thrilling Premier League fixtures this weekend and focus on the first silverware battle of the season, the League Cup final. Two gritty and prodigious clubs from London collide in the competition which was founded in 1960. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea take on the invigorated Tottenham Hotspurs at Wembley Stadium.
Both clubs will shift attention away from the league to a fiery one-on-one battle for the cup, which would be great momentum for the winner to continue their task in other competitions. The Blues are narrow favourites before the kickoff, however take nothing away from Spurs who hammered Chelsea 5-3 at White Hart Lane in the league. Mourinho is always keen on securing as many trophies as possible and certainly have some special love on the Capital One cup after it being the first trophy he won in England. He recently stated, “Lots of teams have followed us since then when we took the League Cup as a real competition, as a real challenge. It is a big competition.” Without a doubt, the Special One’s utmost target is the Premier League, sitting at the peak of the league with five points lead from Manchester City who are involved in a tricky matchup against Liverpool at Anfield.
Spurs on the other hand have won the competition four times and astonishingly defeated Chelsea in their previous final back in 2007/2008 season. Being the first match played in the new Wembley, Berbatov and Woodgate scored for the team in white and Drogba netted for the runner ups. While no players from the Spurs squad are still attached to the club, whereas Chelsea have four with Drogba, Cech, Terry and Mikel. Mauricio Pochettino’s men are trailing three points from the crucial fourth place in the league. It would be a star-studded battle where all eyes will confidently be on two prolific strikers who have been inspiring since the start of the season. Chelsea’s Diego Costa is the joint-top scorer of the league with 17 goals out of 20 matches, a mesmerizing goal ration of 0.85. Not far away, with 14 goals is one of the brightest young talents in the league. In a big-spending culture that sees numerous big name players hauling the headlines, a home-grown talent like Harry Kane seems to be a gem of a rising star. The 21-year old who is on the verge of his first senior England cap, ran riot against Chelsea in the 5-3 triumph, placing turmoil for John Terry and co at the back. Indisputably, defending against two of this marvelous finishes is never a walk in a park. Moreover, it would be a mental test for Kane, who is contending for the first time in a bigger stage.
A bright point for Spurs would be the absence of hard-hitting midfielder Nemanja Matic for Chelsea, who starts his two-match suspension after a spat with Ashley Barnes against Burnley last weekend. His cover, John Obi Mikel is also unavailable as he continues to recover from knee injury. Mourinho might just throw the dice by placing Ramires in the defensive midfielder role to shield up his backline. The former Real Madrid boss holds a strong record ahead of the match which could be distressing for Tottenham, as Chelsea’s last two League Cup final victories came under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2007. All three of Mourinho’s domestic final appearances as Chelsea boss have ended with the Blues lifting the trophy, including the FA Cup in 2006/07. Mouth-watering and skintight battles as numerous fantasy premier league stars are involved!