|COMPETITION||League Cup Final|
|DATE||Sunday 1st March 2015|
Two calendar months after Spurs dismantled the Blue machine at White
Hart Lane, the two sides meet again at Wembley in the League Cup
Final. So, how will they have fared since then and what will
that mean for the outcome of the silverware's destination ?
Chelsea have had a free week with no European distraction, while Spurs have been to Italy, where they stayed for an extra day for some warm weather training before returning home. The 0-2 defeat to Fiorentina is not something that is a disgrace, as they are a good side and Mohamed Salah won't be facing us on Sunday. The nature of our loss is a little more worrying, with two moments of defensive weakness allowing the two goals that saw the Viola through. Such lax play will be punished as harshly if it happens again at Wembley.
For many of the Spurs players, it will be a new experience, but many have big match experience under their belts. How they react to the big occasion may be instrumental in how Tottenham perform. I would expect that Pochettino has prepared them for the final and will select the team on the needs of the match rather than on previous ties and sentiment. Thus Hugo Lloris will appear in goal, with Rose and Walker restored after being on the bench in Italy. The job that Bentaleb and Mason did in the New Year's Day game will guarantee they start, with Chadli having one of his best games that night earning him a start, alongside Eriksen and probably Townsend, who tormented Chelsea back then. Leading the side from the front will be Harry Kane, who gave Cahill and Terry a torrid time scoring twice to make his impact in the big time even more notable.
Chelsea have strengthened since then, so, despite Matic's suspension, they can bring in Ramires and Cuadrado will also begin in midfield, giving Spurs a new problem, as he likes to get forward from his position there. Diego Costa has said he will not stop playing in his aggressive way and that is fine, as long as referees are aware of that. Mourinho has already sown a seed in Anthony Taylor's mind saying Spurs players dive and his previous comments that everyone is against his side probably means that they will get all the decisions at Wembley.
Drogba has always been a problem for Tottenham and whether Mourinho would throw him in to upset Tottenham, but I would imagine that he is so desperate to win some trophies that he will stick with his strongest side. That might give Spurs a chance, as Cahill and Terry might be his first choice, but they have not been playing well as a pairing and with Tottenham's direct running, this might commit them, either providing chances or pulling them out of position.
Ironically, Matic had a really poor game against Spurs on New Year's Day, so him being missing might not be the best thing, but then again, he might not have played that badly again. With Willian and Oscar both players who float around the area behind the strikers, Spurs will need to be aware of the runners from deep ... and Branislav Ivanovic seems to be in a rich goal-scoring vein and not just from corners either.
For Tottenham, there will be the need to find that dynamism that stretched Chelsea back in January, but whether that is feasible on the wide open spaces of Wembley remains to be seen. Pochettino complained that the Spurs pitch was too narrow earlier in the season, so it will be interesting to see whether playing here changes his outlook. Certainly moving the ball wide quickly might make the Pensioners players find they are having to cover more ground rapidly, leaving Spurs to find gaps to make something of. Eriksen could be key to the Spurs performance, but Mourinho would have noted the effect he had on the game at the Lane and probably won't allow that to happen again.
tells me that the revenge element in this match will make Chelsea
favourites and with our recent form not being that great, if the
Pensioners play how they can, they might be the winners, but then I
thought that last time and looked what happened. So I will go
with my heart and predict ...
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tottenham have a full squad to choose from with no injuries from Thursday's game in Italy.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS :
Nemanja Matic misses the game after getting sent off last Saturday for retaliation.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Chelsea 2 (1)
League Cup Final
Sunday 1st March 2015 Kick off 16:00
Terry 44m 07s
Walker (o.g.) 55m 39s
Dier (foul on Costa) 32
Bentaleb (foul on Cuadrado) 79
Willian (foul on Rose) 71
Cahill (foul on Kane) 73
Cuadrado (foul on Rose) 86
|Crowd : 89,294||Weather : Sunny at start with heavy rain in second half|
|Referee : Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. L. Betts; Mr. D. Bryan|
|Fourth Official : Craig Pawson||-|
|Chelsea kicked off and played towards the East end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 5 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Chelsea :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Andros TOWNSEND (19
Mousa DEMBELE 62)
18 Harry KANE
10 Eden HAZARD
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Jose Mourinho|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Samsung|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : adidas|
Under a leaden sky, with rain drenching the lower tier and some of the middle one too, Spurs fell to a League Cup Final defeat thanks to two deflected goals and a tiring schedule, which helped Chelsea lift the trophy, while Spurs have only the league to concentrate on now.
The Blues went into the game with Mourinho desperate for his first piece of silverware and that showed when the teams were announced. Without the suspended Matic, the Chelsea manager opted for a third centre half to play in the middle of a midfield three to nullify the threat posed by Christian Eriksen. This led to the West London side being happy to concede possession, with the tactics based on the premise that they would get at least right men behind the ball as soon as Tottenham entered the Chelsea half. This caused Tottenham some problems, as they unable to move the ball wide to exploit the width of the pitch and moves down the middle of the pitch saw them run into a blue wall of bodies. Meanwhile, at the other end, there was a blue shirt running into any Tottenham player he came into the vicinity of. Diego Costa was allowed to perpetrate acts of aggression and of dissent without any rebuke from the referee. Unfortunately, Anthony Taylor is not up to taking control of big games and his naivety showed again today, when he fell for every Chelsea fall and was psyched out by Mourinho's comments in the preceding seven days about how hard done by his side is. Weakness in the early stages allowed so much to go on and when you see referees in League Two unafraid to send players off with a second yellow card for kicking the ball away, you wonder why someone like Taylor gets a showpiece game, which he then fails to exercise his authority on big name players who do just the same.
Spurs kicked off after the teams had come out to the mandatory pyrotechnics (I didn't think they were allowed in the stadium) and the weird "opening ceremony" theatrics of a woman slung under a massive ball stealing the League Cup trophy in an aerial ballet choreographed by someone with no idea about what football fans want to see. What we wanted to see was her drop the Cup from 50 feet up. Unfortunately, she picked it out of a fractured giant League Cup making it look like a prize in a giant Kinder egg and handed it to the military to take to the plinth.
The game was pretty dull in the first half really. Chelsea content to sit back and pick the ball off Tottenham and then hit long balls wide to Costa, with Willian and Fabregas or Hazard up quickly to support him. It proved successful tactic, although Sam Allardyce might rant against it, with Costa facing up to Dier in the first five minutes, when the defender had the temerity to tackle him cleanly. The first deflection of the day took Ivanovic's right wing cross high into the air and back-peddling, Lloris pushed it out and had to kick the ball off, as Costa wrestled to get to it. When Spurs cleared the corner, they built a move up the left, with Kane cutting infield, as he did for his first goal on New Year's Day. Chelsea had learnt their lesson, so chopped him down before he got in shooting range, but that left a 22 yard free-kick for Christian Eriksen to have a go at. Curling the ball over the wall, he just failed to get the ball down in time and thudded it against Cech's crossbar, with the keeper underneath it but not going for it. That was in the 10th minute of the match and from then on in, Chelsea ensured Spurs didn't get near their goal too often thanks to the use of what Gooner Alan Smith brands "tactical" fouls. I know what I call them.
Harry managed to avoid such a tactic, when Andros took his defender with him as he ran to the left, leaving space for Kane to run into and he hit a low shot from outside the box, but it lacked venom and Cech fell to save it easily. Then Terry got in the way of a powerful drive form Ryan Mason, before Chelsea at last threatened the Spurs goal, not the Spurs players, but Hazard shot well wide. On the quarter hour, Danny Rose was hacked down by Ramires on the halfway line and not for the last time in the match, as the Chelsea players seemed to make him a target for their tough tactics. When Danny fouled Hazard there was a free-kick for Chelsea and plenty of treatment for the Blues man before Willian hit the wall with the dead ball and as it flew up into the air, Rose was underneath it, until he was clattered by Cahill. It looked clear cut from the top of the stands what was happening, but Taylor was obviously too close to notice.
When Spurs moved forward in their next attack, Lloris' kick out top Rose saw the full back take it on his chest and break forward to fire a cross/shot across the face of goal, but it went out for a goal-kick. Tottenham maintained their forward momentum, looking for passes inside the box which didn't quite come off, but Chelsea were making rare forays into the Tottenham last third. When they did, Costa managed to put a hand into Bentaleb's face with the referee less than five yards away and yet he did nothing, other than step in and talk to Nabil when he confronted the Brazilian ... or is he Spanish ? The referee was soon reaching for a yellow card and it was for Eric Dier for his tackle from behind on Costa. Strange that it should be a Spurs man who was first in the book and then to compare other challenges which went in on white shirted players but did not get the same punishment.
Ten minutes from half-time, Danny Rose kept the ball in on the left, with good determination, after which he played Eriksen in inside the box. Christian jinked past a defender and shooting through another's legs, he forced Cech into a sharp save at the foot of his right hand post. Mason wasn't so accurate when he was set up by Chadli, as he fired way over the bar. Kyle Walker needed a long spell of treatment on a knee injury and didn't look that mobile when he returned to the pitch, but when a long throw came in just before half-time, Spurs cleared it, but when it was played right to Ivanovic, Chadli put an arm out behind him as the ball was in the air and the strapping Chelsea full back went down like a sack of spuds. When Willian played the free-kick in, Tottenham had seven men in a line behind each other, so Danny Rose's header at the near post glanced across his own goal, the ball hit Zouma and dropped for Terry, whose shot deflected off Dier's heel and beat Lloris, who might have had it covered.
Coming a minute before the break, it was not a good time to concede, but there was little that could be done after the free-kick had not been cleared and that is where the problem arose.
Spurs momentarily lost their concentration and a corner to the far post picked out Ivanovic, who headed it back across goal and Cahill got a head to it before anyone else, forcing Lloris to grab the ball just in front of the line at the foot of his left hand post. That was the last action of the half, but as the tiny kids (looking even smaller from the top of the stand) took their kicks in an penalty shoot out the clouds started rolling in. The kids were taking penalties from about eight yards out, but the little kids were place din full sized goals !! Haven't the Football League and Capital One realised that playing on full sized pitches does nothing for the player's development ???
Anyway, by the time the second half started, the rain was starting to come down and beat on the stadium roof. Both sides got forward early on, with Rose's cross only finding Cech, while at the other end, Hazard put a ball across the goal, which Dier got a touch to right in front of his own goal, but the ball squirted away at the far side for a throw in. From it, Ivanovic took it long and the cleared ball fell for Fabregas to attempt an overhead kick, but Lloris was well behind the weak effort. But ten minutes into the half, Chelsea added a second.
As Spurs pushed forward, there was space behind the midfield for Chelsea to make use of. Hazard pushed the ball out left to Costa. Walker had been playing deep and the striker ran at him, just inside the box. He went outside and drove a ball looking for a blue shirt at the far post, but Walker's attempt to block the ball saw the ball deflect off his leg and fly past Lloris at his near post. It was another incident where the keeper may have had it covered, but the luck favoured Chelsea and at 2-0, you could not see Spurs coming back into the game without some luck of their own.
Bentaleb tried to get them back into the match, but shot wide after a pass from Townsend, then Willian played a return pass to Hazard, whose shot curled wide from wide in the box. Fabregas headed wide when well placed, before the referee finally twigged he was able to put a Chelsea name in the book, with Willian's foul on Rose bringing a yellow card. This was quickly followed by Cahill also seeing yellow, when he blatantly pulled back Kane ... and not for the first time either. Mason went off with Lamela coming on in his place and shortly after, a Eriksen free-kick tried to find Dier at the far post, but he was given offside. His jump left Azpilicueta on the floor and he eventually got up before needing treatment for a cut head. The Chelsea fans were howling for a red card, but it was not intentional and Chelsea had to play on with ten men until the referee held play up at a Spurs free-kick for a long time to allow the left back onto the pitch again.
Ramires fouled Rose for the umpteenth time and I am sure he might (although with Taylor you are never sure) have got booked for it, but Rose took a quick free-kick and sent Chadli away on the left, putting in a low cross which was blocked for a corner. Eriksen played a good ball in the heart of the six yard box, where Kane got a head on it despite Ivanovic pulling his short off him. Unfortunately, the ball zipped off the wet turf and Lamela couldn't react to it as it fizzed past him.
Bentaleb went into the book for a foul on sub Cuadrado, before Kane did well to keep the ball in on the right touchline, putting in a low cross beyond the defenders, but Ivanovic missed it at the far post and Chadli was behind him, but missed it too. Soldado replaced the Belgian winger straight away and while Spurs were pushing to get back into the game, Chelsea were looking to hit on the break, although Walker was covering well when danger threatened. Chelsea were breaking up play by winning cheap free-kicks and when Tottenham won one, it was because Cuadrado went in recklessly on Rose and went into the book. Kane did well to win the ball through three tackles and broke into the box, but his shot was blocked by a sliding challenge from Terry. When the corner came in, it was possible to see from our elevated viewpoint that Soldado was having his shirt pulled off him, but despite him protesting to the ref, he gave nothing although indicated that he had seen it. What a joke !!
Spurs had two final half-chances, with crosses glanced over by Vertonghen and Soldado, but the game was played out with the players soaked through with the heavy rain that had driven across the stadium. The Spurs fans who remained gave their team a good hand, but by the time they went up for their medals, the Tottenham end was more or less empty. I remember the days (the good old days ;o)) when fans used to give their team applause when they came around on their way off the pitch, but times have changed and the losing team tend to disappear down the tunnel, which, being in the middle, means they don't go past their own fans.
It was a disappointing day out, but arriving at the ground at about 2 o'clock, the atmosphere was strange. Little noise on Wembley Way, no buzz around the place and the ramps were not packed with people going to the turnstiles. It didn't feel like a Cup Final and while there were Police out and charity collectors all over, the general atmosphere was quite muted. Even the drone in the car park wasn't droning that much.
Maybe the Special One just couldn't be bothered top make it special.
Marco van Hip
Chelsea players were once
reliant on older members of their West London community funding
their wages to keep the team going, thus they honoured them by
adopting the nickname "The Pensioners".
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|What you thought|
I'm not sure who arranges the officials for games like this, but he
turned it into a waste of money for half the crowd. The other
half thought he was great and that probably tells you how one sided
his performance was.
While the cynical side of the game is allowed to prosper, then
things will always go to the teams who practice the 'dark arts';
those which many commentators feel are an accepted part of the game
these days. I am not sure that I would want a Costa or Terry
in my team, as their effectiveness would be limited should the laws
of the game be properly enforced against them. If that was the
case, then they would play as much as they do and that would
certainly make them less effective !!
think Mourinho IS right about their fans. How many empty seats
were there in their section ? And who heard much from them
until they scored ? They were happy enough with the silence of
the West end of the ground. Apart from a big flag (and don't
forget, they have bought in flag-wavers for home matches !!), there
was little in the way of support until the end when they cheered
Jose and his performing seals. They all looked quite excited
to win what they rate as a Mickey Mouse cup.
What a surprise.
|Benny The Ball||
Mourinho's side were back to his best. Nicking goals and then
parking the bus. Just the thing for a Wembley showpiece.
Mind you ... it showed the world just how Mourinho deems it
necessary to be successful. Petty fouls, shirt-pulling and
intimidation of a young side. Shame Chelsea are not a young
side and that when the old guard go, Abramovich will have to draw on
his diminishing riches to buy a new team, otherwise Jose will be
believe that Pochettino is right and that Spurs will be back for
many more finals, but how soon that will be depends on how the squad
will be built to maintain challenges on a number of fronts.
This campaign saw us have a relatively easy draw through to the
final and while that hasn't guaranteed us a final berth in the past,
our loss to Leicester in the FA Cup could be seen as not being able
to keep four competitions on the go.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Newcastle United||1||Aston Villa||0||Saturday|
|Stoke City||1||Hull City||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Southampton||0||Saturday|
|West Ham United||1||Crystal Palace||3||Saturday|
|9||West Ham United||27||10||9||8||38||33||39||+5|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||7||9||11||25||34||30||-9|
* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.
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