Jose Mourinho has taken considerable strides upon his promise that Chelsea would be strong contenders in every competition in his second season back at Stamford Bridge, with the Capital One Cup Final providing the first real opportunity for silverware. Even though superb performances and results a feature throughout the 2014/2015 season for Mourinho’s men, the upcoming trip to Wembley will offer a true indication of whether the Blues can produce the goods when it matters.
Chelsea must put aside any thoughts of completing the treble and focus on what promises to be a tough game against local rivals Tottenham, who may hold a psychological advantage going into the Final after their 5-3 victory over the Blues in the recent Premier League fixture. While there are a number of intriguing Championship fixtures that could be pivotal at both ends of the table, Chelsea can afford to put league matters to one side and focus on a cup final where they will receive wonderful support from Blues fans walking up the famous Wembley Way towards the stadium.
It may have been an edgy night at Stamford Bridge in the semi-final second leg against Liverpool, but Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time winner illustrated Chelsea’s unerring ability to source goals from all areas of the pitch.
The Premier League top scorers have been ruthless in front of goal this season with the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, and Oscar finding the back of the net when it matters. All three will have to be at their very best if Chelsea are to be victorious in the final, as their clinical edge and dynamic attacking play could be the difference between the two teams come the full time whistle.
Mourinho may rue the absence of Nemanja Matic who could be suspended following his controversial red card against Burnley; although Ramires would slot perfectly into the vacant holding midfield role. Matic has been integral to Chelsea’s pursuit of glory and would be sorely missed if the club’s appeal against his three game ban fails.
Sheffield United may have provided Tottenham with their biggest test in the Capital One Cup this season in both legs of their semi-final tie, but Mauricio Pochettino has integrated a wonderful fighting spirit throughout the team to keep playing until the final whistle. It has allowed Tottenham to get points from losing positions on a number of occasions this season with Christian Eriksen often providing invaluable late winners in their pursuit of a top four finish.
While the Danish midfielder will be a real danger at Wembley, Chelsea will have to find a way to stop Harry Kane, who cannot stop scoring. The 21-year-old striker is in the middle of a purple patch with six goals in just four games and has taken his record this season to 14 in 22 Premier League appearances. Chelsea’s defence will be well aware of the threat Kane poses following his brace in the North London Derby defeat on New Year’s Day, but despite having a world-class keeper in Hugo Lloris, Tottenham’s defence is still prone to errors and lapses in concentration.
If Chelsea impose themselves and get the attacking game going from the start, then the blues could take full advantage of Spurs’ Achilles heel and create real pressure that could result in the goals that take us towards the first of a potential treble.