[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he pundits, bookies and stattos have been in full flow pontificating on Sunday’s derby Capital One Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. Various experts, via touch screen graphics and copious amounts of data, have been telling anyone who will listen who is going to win and why. I have a simpler method in this instance. I close my eyes and see what picture flashes into my mind and on doing just that I had a vision of Harry Kane wheeling away, in typical fashion, before the next image clarified to show him holding the famous three handled trophy.
Not very scientific, I know, and there are arguments for and against a Spurs’ win in the same way there are, arguably, more significant reasons to predict a Chelsea win. So, a look at Sunday’s Final with the brain already on cliché alert.
Looking at the game from a decidedly neutral perspective, there are so many quality players on show with so many sub-plots of individual duels to be contained therein that I would not be surprised if we had a 4-3 score line.
Both teams have top quality goalkeepers, though Chelsea have the better back line in front of their custodian. Therein lies maybe José’s biggest dilemma; Čech or Courtois. The giant Belgian was recalled for the semi-finals against Liverpool after Peter Čech played in all previous Capital One ties, and despite the fact that Courtois was between the sticks when Spurs put five past him in January, he is certain to play at Wembley.
In midfield José’s boys have the edge, whoever gets the nod, world class players from Hazard to Oscar with a couple of other more than decent back ups thrown in for good measure should ensure Chelsea dominance in the heart of the game.
Up front the edge would have to be with the arch street fighter Diego ‘if looks could kill’ Costa but in Harry Kane, Spurs have the in-form striker of the moment and if there is a slight advantage when comparing the two goal scorers, like for like, it is that Harry doesn’t cheat, stamp, dive or get otherwise distracted from doing what he does best, scoring goals. Both strikers can finish team moves and both can carve out an opening for himself. But again, and it may just be a slight edge, Harry gets my vote because he plays for the team by being himself, Diego just plays for himself with benefits to his team being a bonus.
Chelsea have two big factors in their favour which makes them favourites to lift the trophy. They have more players who can carry the ball at pace and therefore switch the dynamic of a game and in Eden Hazard they have the best of their best. He has become so acclimatised to the speed and physicality of Premier League football that nothing seems to knock him out of his stride. José Mourinho’s team is also full of experience and experience of big games too.
For Tottenham they can look back to January and their thrashing of Chelsea which introduced the first chink of vulnerability into the previously impenetrable Chelsea armour. Ordinarily I would not place to much emphasis on previous results but it was only last month and the red-raw hurt it inflicted is still there in the Stamford Bridge camp.
Whichever team wins at Wembley will move above the other in terms of League Cup wins and join Aston Villa on five wins, and as with most one-off cup ties, it may very well depend on who turns up on the day.
The ruthlessly efficient Chelsea would still probably beat Spurs even if all team members from White Hart Lane turned up with their full game. If that is the case come Sunday then we could be in for a hell of a game and maybe we might just see a 4-3. Whatever the outcome there will still be hours of broadcast preamble and thousands of column inches dissecting and analysing who will win and why.
Me, I just can’t get that image of Harry Kane out of my neutral mind.
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