The last time Tottenham hoisted a trophy, it was just a shade more than 7 years ago. Their opponent: Chelsea. A 2-1 win in extra time in the 2008 League Cup Final was a crowning moment for Juande Ramos (who would have few others at the Lane), and turned out to be the club’s only major honor in the 2000’s. The goalscorers that day were Dimitar Berbatov and Jonathan Woodgate.
No Spurs player in that squad holds over to this weekend, while Sunday’s Chelsea squad still holds over Petr Cech, John Obi Mikel and John Terry (even if the first 2 aren’t likely to play). Their first 2 meetings this season have been enthralling games, but how will those matches fare with a trophy on the line?
While the League Cup might seem like relative pittance to Chelsea who still have the Premier League and Champions League titles in their crosshairs, this is Tottenham’s only remaining chance for silverware, and it’s one they have been yearning for. Their recent form shows that they’ve had their eyes on this trophy ever since overcoming Arsenal almost a month ago. Chelsea have been sputtering a little bit of late, but a Cup win will do plenty towards righting their ship.
Tactically, the chess match between Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino will be won in the midfield. Mourinho does not have either Nemanja Matic (who had a shocker when these two sides played at the Lane) or John Obi Mikel (through injury) to place in the center of midfield, which probably leaves Cesc Fabregas and Ramires left to shield John Terry and (probably) Kurt Zouma. Mousa Dembele was absolutely the difference in his “forward destroyer” role when Spurs beat Chelsea 5-3 on New Year’s Day, and his absence from the Europa League squad on Thursday should give a hint as to whether he’s going to feature or not. Christian Eriksen was incredibly influential without scoring a goal in both matches, and even though he played 90 minutes in Fiorentina, he’s a shoe-in to start.
Programming note: If you live in the United States, the League Cup Final between Spurs and Chelsea is being televised exclusively on beIN SPORTS as well as being streamed live on DishWorld. If you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can watch Tottenham against Chelsea live on DishWorld for just $10 per month. The service streams the beIN broadcast in HD to your computer, tablet or smartphone. And set-up just takes minutes. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.
There are still some lineup questions for both squads. Tottenham have started Michel Vorm in every League Cup tie until now, but Hugo Lloris is still one of the best keepers in England. After Gary Cahill had one of the nightmares of his life against Tottenham two months ago, will he start in place of Kurt Zouma? It’s safe to say Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele will start as 2 of Spurs’ advanced midfield 3, but will the 3rd be Nacer Chadli, Andros Townsend or Erik Lamela? Will Juan Cuadrado start to add width to take some of the attacking load of Branislav Ivanovic’s shoulders?
This game may well come down to strikers. Both Diego Costa and Harry Kane played well on January 1, and whoever plays best in this match may well end up deciding it.
If Chelsea’s midfield two plays better than they did on New Year’s Day, they should be able to overrun Spurs like they did at Stamford Bridge. If not, Spurs have a chance to beat Chelsea twice in the same season for the first time since the 1970-71.
Whoever wins, it should be an enthralling Cup Final.
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