The Capital One Cup final was revenge for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, as they almost totally neutered Tottenham’s few advances and took advantage of their mental errors and injuries while cruising to a 2-0 win. Chelsea showed their experience, nous, and cutting edge that Spurs simply lacked. Maybe they’ll gain those attributes one day, but in this match Chelsea showed that they are still one step above their London rivals.
Tottenham were not that bad, nor were they at their New Year’s Day form when they tore Chelsea to shreds. Without Nemanja Matic, Mourinho made a slightly odd tactical decision by placing Gary Cahill alongside Cesc Fabregas in midfield. It worked to perfection, and absent a few isolated moments, Harry Kane was totally marked out of the match. The steel in midfield that Moussa Dembele brought to Spurs in the New Year’s day clash was not there, and while Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb were not bad, they were simply outclassed by the better players wearing blue.
Mauricio Pochettino did not get his tactics wrong today. He wanted to see Spurs move the ball quickly to the flanks and use the width of the pitch to attack Chelsea in wide areas where they are vulnerable. It was noble and against weaker sides probably would have worked. But John Terry, Kurt Zouma and Cahill all had fantastic matches which neutralized Spurs’ wide play.
Chelsea also never really had an onslaught on the Tottenham goal. They had chances, but they were fairly clinical in the ones they took. Terry once again came up in the right spot after Spurs couldn’t clear their lines (a fairly common problem right now) and Diego Costa once again proving he was the element that Chelsea lacked last season and finished clinically after the attack started against Kyle Walker, who was not 100%.
Chelsea and Mourinho continue their march towards a treble without so much as a small hiccup. They are five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand. Manchester City’s form is plummeting like a stone, while they remain England’s best hope at a Champions League winner. They are set up for almost a guaranteed second trophy by winning the league, while a third is not out of the question.
For Spurs, this ends a particularly disastrous week and disastrous spell that will take some strong character to overcome. This is the third rough patch of Spurs’ season, and it has come at the worst possible time. They’ve not kept a clean sheet since January 31st at West Brom, and are on the verge of going a month without a win. The goals have dried up, while the mental lapses at the back continue to pop up in the worst possible positions.
Despite their recent troubles, Spurs fans should not criticize Pochettino and the squad for this. Yes, it is painful to come so close and come away with nothing. But Tottenham’s run to Wembley was built on the back of home grown players and excellent moments of quality from players who aren’t going to leave Spurs in this state. The average age of the Spurs squad today was 23.6 years old – only Liverpool have fielded younger sides this season. They will all learn from this and surely be motivated by it. Top four is not out of the question by any means and with 12 games to go Spurs’ have a relatively decent run-in on paper. With careful alterations in the summer, this Spurs side could be genuine favorites for the Champions League places.
Chelsea were the side that showed their experience today, while Tottenham showed that there is still room to grow and that there certainly could be more finals in this squad to come. But that’s little comfort to Tottenham supporters for now, who have been left at the altar again.
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