PREVIEW: 2015 Capital One Cup Final

CHELSEA face London rivals Tottenham in the 2015 Capital One Cup Final on Sunday in a repeat of the 2008 showpiece at Wembley Stadium (KO 16:00 GMT).

Spurs and Chelsea emerge from tunnel at White Hart Lane (1st Jan 2015)

CHELSEA face London rivals Tottenham in the 2015 Capital One Cup Final on Sunday in a repeat of the 2008 showpiece at Wembley Stadium (KO 16:00 GMT). 

Spurs came from behind to win 2-1 in extra-time to claim their last trophy under Juande Ramos seven years ago.

The Blues are appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time since then – and seventh in total – while Spurs did reach the final again a year later but lost on penalties to Manchester United after a lively goalless draw.

The two sides – who also met in the 2012 FA Cup semi-finals when Chelsea won 5-1 – are bidding to lift the trophy for the fifth time in what is the 55th League Cup Final.

The previous winners were Manchester City, who recovered from losing an early goal to beat Sunderland 3-1 in last season’s final.

Mauricio Pochettino pre-match (v C Palace - 10th Jan 2015)
Steady start: The Argentine has won 23 of his 44 games in charge of Tottenham since taking over last summer

The all-Premier League contest at the national stadium will see Mauricio Pochettino pit his wits against the Special One in the managerial stakes.

Spurs head coach Pochettino is awaiting his first silverware since arriving in England in January 2013 – when replacing Nigel Adkins as Southampton’s manager.

Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, won his first trophy as Chelsea boss in the League Cup with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Liverpool at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

They also won the competition two years later under the Portuguese’s stewardship; the Blues coming from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 in a fiery contest which saw Howard Webb send off three players while captain John Terry was stretchered off after being kicked in the face.

Familiarity breeds contempt: It will be Chelsea’s 13th outing at Wembley since it re-opened in 2007 while Spurs will be visiting for the fifth time

Chelsea – who are still battling on three fronts despite their FA Cup exit by 2013 League Cup finalists Bradford – will be marginal favourites to claim a first trophy since Mourinho returned to the West London outfit in July 2013.

The Blues edged past Liverpool 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals and also thumped Spurs 3-0 at Stamford Bridge back in December.

But Spurs – who overcame a brave effort from League One Sheffield United to reach the final – will be encouraged by the sides’ last meeting as Harry Kane inspired an astonishing 5-3 win on New Year’s Day at White Hart Lane.

Harry Kane man of the match (v Chelsea on BT Sport - 1st Jan 2015)
Stand-out: Kane scored twice, set up another goal and won a penalty in Spurs’ last encounter against Chelsea

It was the only time a Mourinho team has conceded four goals in a league game but the chances of a repeat happening on such a high-profile occasion is highly unlikely.

In-form striker Kane took his tally to 24 goals this season by rescuing a draw with West Ham in the last kick of the game last weekend – 14 of them coming in the top-flight.

The Lilywhites, though, have already been hurt by one player who belongs to Chelsea this week after on-loan Blues forward Mohamed Salah netted in Fiorentina’s 2-0 victory on Thursday night which knocked the North Londoners out of the Europa League at the round of 32 stage.

Sunday’s showdown will be a third game in seven days for Spurs and Pochettino has demanded that his team recover quickly from the setback in Italy – where the side remained for Friday’s training session.

Diego Costa (Chelsea v West Ham - 26th December 2014)
Hitting the front: The Spaniard has scored 17 goals in 27 appearances in this his first season in English football

Chelsea, meanwhile, will have had eight days of rest following their controversial 1-1 draw with Burnley last Saturday which was dominated by referee Martin Atkinson and Clarets striker Ashley Barnes.

Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic will only watch from the Wembley stands – and will sit out the midweek trip to bottom-club Leicester – after his much-publicised red card for reacting to a challenge from Barnes which could have broken his leg.

Barnes challenge on Matic
Horror tackle: The studs of Barnes caught Matic on the side of the shin after the ball had gone – a reckless challenge which could have caused a lot more damage than it did

Mourinho believes the absence of the Serbian – who has ensured Chelsea have lost only once in the 37 games he has appeared in this term – gives Spurs an extra advantage.

But the Blues – in their first domestic cup final since their 2012 FA Cup triumph – have a habit of getting over the line in important games without their best players and either Ramires or Cesc Fabregas should provide sufficient cover.

They may have a prolific scorer in Diego Costa but when it comes to Wembley occasions, no-one is better than Didier Drogba. The veteran striker has scored in all eight games he has played at the stadium as well as nine goals in nine finals he has played in for the club.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba
Elder statesman: The 36-year-old Ivorian has scored four previous League Cup final goals during the first spell of his Chelsea career

The sides are also separated by six points and six places in the Premier League table heading into the weekend with leaders Chelsea gunning for a first title since 2010 while Spurs are three points behind fourth-placed Manchester United in their Champions League quest.

Tottenham have scored the most goals in the final 10 minutes in the Premier League this term while Chelsea have conceded the most – could that be an omen?

Mourinho has stated the importance with which he values the League Cup and will hope it can provide a platform for his side to enjoy glory in the Premier League and Europe.

But the powers that Spurs pose should not be forgotten – and with key duo Kane and Eriksen in tip-top form, they can certainly harbour ambitions of ending that seven-year trophy wait.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at the Britannia Stadium
Concentration: Mourinho has insisted that “nothing else matters” in the build-up to the final but has already given the referee warning about any players planning to take a dive


STATS:

Chelsea have not won a game by a 1-0 scoreline in any competition this season.

The Blues opened the scoring in each of their five matches on the way to this season’s final.

Tottenham have recovered 16 Premier League points from winning positions this term – more than any other side.

This is Tottenham’s 19th cup match of the season and 45th fixture in all competitions – the most of any Premier League side – while Chelsea have played 40 matches.

Ten of Tottenham’s 12 goals in the League Cup this season have been scored in the second half.

Mauricio Pochettino’s only other experience of a cup final in his managerial career came in the Copa Del Rey with Espanyol in 2006.

Jose Mourinho is currently experiencing the longest barren run without a trophy in his career having not lifted one since 2012 with Real Madrid. He has won silverware 21 times before.

Creative spark: Fabregas has also scored five goals this season in all competitions for the Blues but was part of the Arsenal team beaten by Birmingham in the 2011 League Cup Final
Creative spark: Fabregas has also scored five goals this season in all competitions for the Blues but was part of the Arsenal team beaten by Birmingham in the 2011 League Cup Final

Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas (19) is leading the assists chart this season in the top-flight while Erik Lamela has the most for Spurs with six.

Only one of the last 11 League Cup finals has seen fewer than three goals scored (Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur in 2009).

Spurs’ 5-3 win over Chelsea in January ended a run of 10 games against the Blues without a win (D5 L5).

 

ROUTE TO THE FINAL:

Tottenham striker Harry Kane (30th Nov 2014)
Breakthrough: 21-year-old Kane – the Premier League’s player of the month for January – has been a revelation for Spurs in attack this season

Tottenham:

Round Three                 3-1 win v Nottingham Forest (H)
Round Four                   2-0 win v Brighton (H)
Quarter-Final                4-0 win v Newcastle United (H)
Semi-Final 1st leg         1-0 win v Sheffield United (H)
Semi-Final 2nd leg        2-2 draw v Sheffield United (A) – won 3-2 on aggregate

 

On the way: Chelsea progressed to the last four after sweeping aside Championship high-flyers Derby
On the way: Chelsea progressed to the last four after sweeping aside Championship high-flyers Derby

Chelsea:

Round Three                  2-1 win v Bolton (H)
Round Four                    2-1 win v Shrewsbury Town (A)
Quarter-Final                 3-1 win v Derby County (A)
Semi-Final 1st leg          1-1 draw v Liverpool (A)
Semi-Final 2nd leg         1-0 win v Liverpool (H) – won 2-1 on aggregate

 

LAST 10 LEAGUE CUP FINALS:

Losing side: Spurs competed well against Manchester United in the 2009 final but were second-best in the penalty shoot-out

2014              Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland
2013              Bradford City 0-5 Swansea City
2012              Cardiff City 2-2 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties)
2011              Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal
2010              Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United
2009              Tottenham 0-0 Manchester United (Manchester United win 4-1 on penalties)
2008              Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea (After Extra Time)
2007              Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
2006              Manchester United 4-0 Wigan Athletic
2005              Liverpool 2-3 Chelsea

 

TEAM NEWS:

Nemanja Matic (Chelsea v West Ham - 26th December 2014)
Key figure: Chelsea have lost two of the three games the 26-year-old has missed so far this season

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic misses out as the Serbian international starts a two-match ban for his controversial red card against Burnley last weekend. It was reduced by the FA this week but he will also be absent for the midweek trip to West Ham in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho has no fresh injury concerns with Jon Obi Mikel the only other absentee – the Nigerian has not played since the 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the start of the month because of a knee injury.

He may have a tough choice to make in goal with number-one Thibault Courtois having started both legs of the semi-final against Liverpool but Petr Cech – who impressed in the recent Premier League win over Everton – has 11 winners’ medals during his 11 years with the club.

Impressive: Zouma - who made his Blues debut in the League Cup back in September - has started three of the last four PL games
Impressive: Zouma – who made his Blues debut in the League Cup back in September – has started three of the last four PL games

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Frenchman Kurt Zouma could get the nod over Gary Cahill to partner captain John Terry at centre-back while Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to start at left-back despite Felipe Luis having played in every League Cup tie so far.

Likewise, Pochettino also has a goalkeeping dilemma with second-choice Michel Vorm having played in every round of the League Cup thus far ahead of captain Hugo Lloris.

Overlooked: Vorm was also left out of Swansea’s 2013 League Cup Final victory over Bradford as Gerhard Tremmel was preferred (Picture from Zimbio.com)

Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen is expected to be restored to the side after missing out on the starting XI in the Premier League for the first time in 35 games last weekend against West Ham.

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Semi-final saviour: The Danish international scored twice against Sheffield United to take Spurs to Wembley and has 11 goals this term

Pochettino made seven changes for Thursday’s Europa League second-leg against Fiorentina, leaving the likes of Harry Kane, Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker among the substitutes.

Captain Younes Kaboul, striker Emmanuel Adebayor and midfielder Etienne Capoue were all left behind and will be desperate to earn a place in the squad on Sunday.

 

POSSIBLE LINE-UPS:

Tottenham XI (v West Ham)
Tottenham’s Premier League line-up against West Ham United last Sunday

Tottenham (4-2-3-1):   Lloris (C), Walker, Vertonghen, Dier, Rose, Bentaleb, Dembele, Townsend, Eriksen, Lamela, Kane.

Chelsea's Premier League line-up against Burnley last Saturday
Chelsea’s Premier League line-up against Burnley last Saturday

Chelsea (4-2-3-1):  Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry (C), Cahill, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Ramires, Willian, Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa.

 

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Anthony Taylor watches on (Newcastle v Sunderland - 21st Dec 2014)
First time: 36-year-old Taylor – a Premier League referee since 2010 – will take charge of his first major final

Referee:  Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Assistant referees:  Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) and Lee Betts (Norfolk)
Fourth Official:  Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)
Reserve Assistant:  Andy Halliday (North Yorkshire)

Read more on Taylor’s appointment here

 

 

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