Chelsea head to Wembley on Sunday as they face rivals Tottenham in the League Cup final. This is the first final since Jose Mourinho returned to the club, and he’ll be looking to win his first silverware in almost three years this weekend. Just as it did 10 years ago, Mourinho will be hoping the League Cup can provide a springboard to help secure the Premier League title in the run in.
The big news heading in to this one is that Nemanja Matic will be missing for the Blues, despite his ban being reduced from three games to two by the FA. That will mean he misses the final this weekend, and he’s likely to be replaced by John Obi Mikel in the holding role. We saw what Harry Kane and Spurs did to Matic when the two met at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, so what could they do against Mikel?
Well, Spurs have problems of their own ahead of this game. They face a midweek trip to Florence on Thursday night before they head to Wembley on Sunday, and the Europa League did affect their domestic performances early in the campaign. All that travel and a difficult game against a strong Serie A side isn’t the best preparation for a final, especially when Chelsea have had a week off before this game.
Last week Spurs drew 2-2 at home to West Ham, starting poorly and salvaging a draw in the end. That might have been because they had one eye on the final, but their midweek Europa exploits surely can’t have helped. If they have any kind of Europa League hangover going in to this game, then you’d expect that Chelsea would be climbing the Wembley steps to lift the trophy on Sunday night.
It’s a much needed trophy for the Blues as well. They may be Premier League leaders, but they’ve not quite kept up the trophy standard of the Abramovich era in recent seasons. Their last trophy came two seasons ago in the Europa League, and that was the last time they made an appearance at Wembley. It’s hardly a drought, but it’s not the kind of record Mourinho prides himself on.
He has been waiting for a trophy since winning La Liga in 2012, and this is his best chance to do it since coming back to Stamford Bridge. There is a chance for them to win silverware in the league and Champions League, and this trophy will be seen as a boost on the way to doing that. Winning a trophy just before the start of the run in is a huge morale booster, plus any trophy is something Mourinho and the club want to win.
It’s hard to see Spurs making this easy, and the loss of Matic here will be noticed. Chelsea’s finals tend to be tight affairs, and that’s likely to happen again here. While it will be a tough game, the Blues should come through this with another trophy in the cabinet.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win in extra time