Chelsea and Tottenham come face-to-face for the second time within a span of exactly two months and the third in less than 3 months. On Sunday, however, a chance for both managers to lift their first silverware since their appointment will be at stake.
The Blues will be looking to revenge their New Year’s Day 5-3 defeat to a Kane-inspired Spurs at the White Hart Lane in what is contender for match of the season. For Mauricio Pochettino’s men, that spectacular win, coupled with fond memories of their 2-1 Carling Cup finals triumph over similar opponents in 2008 will be sources for self-belief.
Jose Mourinho’s talk last season was dominated by his side’s inability to win the Premier League due to squad depth and maturity reasons. His ‘little horses’ imminently failed to secure any trophy that season following fifth round FA and League Cup eliminations, a 3rd finish in the Premier League and suffering a UCL semifinals exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
However, a season later Mourinho has made significant additions to his side and Chelsea come into this match in the mold of a Champion. New arrival Diego Costa jointly heads the Premier League goal scoring charts with Sergio Aguero having scored 17 goals apiece while Cesc Fabregas’ gallant 15 Premier League assists is almost twice as much as his next rival. This has meant Chelsea’s star Eden Hazard has the burdens of goal scoring and providing assists eased off his back. Other acquisitions – Nemanja Matic, Felipe Luis, Juan Cuadrado and the return of Atletico Madrid loanee Thibaut Curtois have been the at the center of a new-look Chelsea side.
Chelsea will be without the key services of Nemanja Matic through suspension while Obi Mikel will sit out injured. Tottenham will look to exploit the absence of the towering Serbian midfielder whose defensive midfield duties have been peerless this season. This probably does little favor for Jose Mourinho who has been accused of defending deeply against big sides, notably both home and away to Manchester City in the Premier League and at the Parc des Princes when the Blues faced PSG in the first leg of the UCL last 16. A similar approach could be suicidal against a Tottenham side boasting one of the most in-form strikers in Europe in Harry Kane.
Mourinho must realize that sitting deep and waiting to catch the opponent on the counter cannot be the trick this time. And in Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Willian, Fabregas and Cuadrado Chelsea has the right blend to play pure free-flowing attacking football. Didier Drogba still sits as a Chelsea player but time has surely passed by his ‘big game’ player status. On Sunday and Wembley, Diego Costa and co. step foot onto the beginning of earning such legendary status.
For Mourinho the Capital One Cup should be the end of his longest trophy drought as manager. And the beginning of his Chelsea reunion defined by titles.
Contribution by Mutai Mattie