Tottenham Hotspur plot Chelsea repeat in League Cup final
Inspired by their stunning 5-3 demolition of Chelsea on New Year`s Day, Tottenham Hotspur will attempt to spoil Jose Mourinho`s love affair with the League Cup in Sunday`s final.
London: Inspired by their stunning 5-3 demolition of Chelsea on New Year`s Day, Tottenham Hotspur will attempt to spoil Jose Mourinho`s love affair with the League Cup in Sunday`s final.
Chelsea have enjoyed the upper hand over their London rivals in recent years, but a run of 10 matches without defeat came to an abrupt halt at a giddy White Hart Lane on January 1 as a Tottenham side inspired by 21-year-old breakthrough star Harry Kane ran amok.
Victory at Wembley on Sunday will bring Mourinho full circle, as the 2004-05 League Cup was the first trophy he won during his first stint as Chelsea manager, but his Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino says Spurs will approach the game with no sense of inferiority.
"We got this victory against Chelsea on January 1 and it is important for belief," said the Argentine, who hopes to end a seven-year trophy drought stretching back to Spurs` win over Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final.
"If you saw the game, our performance was nearly perfect and we played very well. We need to repeat the same performance to come close to winning the trophy.
"It is true there have been many years without a trophy, so this is a very good chance to give the club another."
While Spurs remain in contention for Champions League qualification, their form has diminished since a brace from Kane secured a memorable 2-1 win over derby rivals Arsenal at the start of the month.
Pochettino`s side have since gone four games without victory, culminating in Thursday`s error-strewn 2-0 loss away to Fiorentina, which curtailed their involvement in the Europa League.
Chelsea`s form has also fluctuated, with a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley last weekend enabling Manchester City to trim their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.
Mourinho`s 2005 League Cup final success proved the precursor to glory in the league -- the first of back-to-back titles -- but he is unwilling to view the competition merely as a catalyst for success elsewhere."Since I arrived in July 2013, it`s the first time I don`t think about the future of this club," said the Portuguese, who is seeking to win the first trophy of his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
"It`s the only moment where I just think about the moment. I don`t think about the future, I don`t think about the consequences.
"I just think about this game. We have a final to win on Sunday and nothing else matters. I don`t think it`s because you win the cup final you win the league."
Mourinho also tasted League Cup success in 2007, but a year later he was no longer at the helm as a Chelsea side coached by Avram Grant lost 2-1 to a fortuitous extra-time goal by Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate.
With Aaron Lennon having joined Everton on loan last month, Spurs club captain Younes Kaboul is the only survivor from that day at Wembley in Pochettino`s ranks.
From Chelsea`s match-day squad, John Terry, John Mikel Obi, Didier Drogba, who scored the opening goal from a free-kick, and goalkeeper Petr Cech, who punched the ball onto Woodgate`s head for the decisive goal, all remain.
Cech is expected to lose out to Thibaut Courtois for a place in Chelsea`s team, while Nemanja Matic`s suspension following his dismissal against Burnley means Ramires is likely to start in central midfield.
Spurs spent an extra day in Florence after Thursday`s Europa League defeat, but Pochettino reported no new injury problems.
Kane, Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker will hope to start after being named on the bench at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The main selection dilemma facing Pochettino concerns whether to keep faith with Michel Vorm, who has played in goal in all of Spurs` five League Cup games to date, or restore first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.