The Capital One Cup Final will be played on neutral turf, and it’s hard to choose between the two sides competing. Tottenham’s majestic league form of late has seen Pochettino’s side ascend up the league table and as a result become possible contestants for a Champions League spot next season. With monumental wins against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the last two months, Spurs have begun to seize the Champions League initiative ahead of this cup final.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have been magnificent all season; their resilience and consistency has seen them maintain a serene spot at the top of the Premier League whilst also comfortably progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Mourinho’s men will be confident and assured ahead of their date with the North Londoners. However, Spurs’ demolition of the Blues at White Hart Lane back in January means Spurs will go into the tie with confidence and belief of their own. Both clubs will be keen to put one over on their rivals and therefore this year’s final promises to be an enthralling encounter between two terrific sides.
Tottenham’s semi-final against Sheffield United wasn’t exactly comfortable over the two legs, but they made it through to the final relatively unscathed. In the first leg, Spurs won 1-0 against their lower league opposition, and the second leg was an even less comfortable affair for them; they were 2-1 down with the game heading into extra time before Christian Eriksen’s strike in the 88th minute.
With arguably Europe’s most in-form striker at the moment in Harry Kane, Tottenham will always pose a threat in the final third. Tottenham supporters and coaching staff have been ecstatic and jubilant with regard to Kane’s incredible fitness levels which have allowed him to successfully exploit Pochettino’s philosophy of high pressing and quick counter-attacking football. Their star man can’t put a foot wrong at the moment; his ability to finish from all angles and with any part of his body has allowed him to bag 24 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions this season.
A natural goalscorer with such a strong innate finishing ability should have a goal-to-game ratio like that of Kane’s, but the fact that he is so young at twenty-one years old makes his rise from the doldrums of the Football League to stardom all the more impressive. Chelsea will have to be very alert in trying to keep this particular talent under wraps.
Despite possessing the Premier League’s third top goalscorer and having won six of their last ten league fixtures, Spurs have only three days to recover for Sunday’s final after they bowed out of the Europa League. Individual errors condemned them to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Italians Fiorentina in a lacklustre performance only a matter of days before their all-important date with Chelsea. It’s safe to say that Tottenham’s fighting spirit will be tested on Sunday.
Chelsea, like Tottenham, had luck on their side in their semi-final, as they scraped past a resilient Liverpool side. Like Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Chelsea’s Diego Costa has a tremendous eye for goal and is currently the Premier League’s top goal scorer with 17 goals. Costa’s spectacular, natural goalscoring ability is something that simply cannot be underestimated and therefore Tottenham’s defenders must perform to the best of their abilities if they wish to keep this man quiet. Cesc Fabregas is another World Class individual who epitomizes class and creativity; with 19 assists and four goals to his name this season, the Spaniard simply mustn’t be given time on the ball in this weekend’s showdown.
It may all be going well on the attacking front, but the absence of midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic through suspension will leave Chelsea lacking when defending Tottenham counter-attacks, especially considering their alternative, John Obi Mikel, is a major doubt through injury. Ramires is therefore the likeliest replacement: a player who is highly energetic, but defensively nowhere near the calibre of Matic or Mikel.
Alternatively, Chelsea may opt to deploy a 4-3-3 formation in order to accommodate Ramires, although this may make the game open and that is something Mourinho certainly would want to avoid. Incidentally, Tottenham are the only Premier League outfit to beat Chelsea this season when Matic has featured. With the Serb ruled out, Chelsea’s defensive attributes will certainly be tested by Spurs’ attacking impetus.
As it stands, Sours and Chelsea have won win each over each other this season: Tottenham’s sensational 5-3 win at White Hart Lane in December was their own back for a 3-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge earlier on in the campaign. The rivalry between Tottenham and Chelsea is one of the fiercest in the country, and this particular result may decided the rest of the season for both sides.
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