Chelsea and Tottenham will go head to head for Capital One Cup glory on Sunday – but success would mean different things to both London clubs.
Jose Mourinho would like to start ushering in a new era of trophies having ended his first season back at Stamford Bridge empty-handed.
For Tottenham, the club would no doubt want to vindicate the decision to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, while also proving the players brought in with the Gareth Bale transfer money were the right choices to bring success to White Hart Lane.
Tottenham’s last trophy came with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Chelsea in the same competition seven years ago but it failed to inspire further successes, and Pochettino will hope for a different outcome than that experienced by Juande Ramos – the manager on that victorious day who was sacked eight months later.
Everyone involved with Spurs will be buoyed heading to Wembley given the euphoria of their 5-3 win over the Blues on New Year’s Day – just another game where “one of their own” Harry Kane was the goalscoring hero.
The 21-year-old is on course to be in Roy Hodgson’s next England squad having already passed the 20-goal mark this season, including two in the memorable victory over Chelsea, where he ran both John Terry and Gary Cahill ragged.
If he can have a similar afternoon at Wembley, the chances are Kane will be collecting a winners’ medal with his beloved Spurs – but Chelsea have been unbeaten in the league since then and both Pochettino and Kane will be all too aware that success will not be easy to come by.
Mourinho’s side sit top of the Premier League and are still in Europe, so winning the League Cup could yet prove to be the first of a historic treble for the Portuguese and the club.
Four members of Mourinho’s squad will remember the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham in 2008 – Didier Drogba opened the scoring with a free-kick before Dimitar Berbatov and Jonathan Woodgate turned the game around.
Petr Cech, John Terry and John Obi Mikel were also involved and the latter could now be in line to start on Sunday after Nemanja Matic was sent off in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley.
Sadly, matters off the pitch will also be keenly observed as the behaviour of supporters at Wembley is likely to come under the microscope following recent, unsavoury incidents.
A number of Chelsea fans were filmed singing racist chants and stopping a black man boarding a Paris Metro train ahead of their Champions League tie with Paris St Germain.
Five fans have since been suspended from Stamford Bridge while investigations take place. No matter the result on the pitch, good behaviour in the stands will also be a further step in the right direction.
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