Chelsea will be aiming for their first silverware since the return of Jose Mourinho as they contest the Capital One Cup final with London rivals Tottenham, who are determined to end their seven-year wait for a trophy of their own.
Up until the semi-finals, the Blues enjoyed fairly serene progress through this competition, seeing off Football League trio Bolton Wanderers, Shrewsbury Town and Derby County, with Mourinho fielding strong sides in his determination to experience that winning feeling once again.
But Liverpool pushed them all the way in the last four, and it could be argued that they were quite fortunate on the balance of the two legs to make it to Wembley. Both performances lacked fluency, but an extra-time header from the in-form Branislav Ivanovic and some goalkeeping heroics from Thibaut Courtois saw them through.
A lot of the build-up to this clash has been about the suspension of Nemanja Matic, whose absence could hand Tottenham’s more inexperienced midfield more of an initiative, but this is a chance for Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to produce on the big occasion having shone throughout this season. If not, there is always perennial Wembley hero Didier Drogba to come off the bench.
Unlike in the FA Cup and the Europa League, Tottenham have found some real consistency in this competition, and like Chelsea they have had to see off three opponents from below the top-flight in order to reach the final. They laboured against Nottingham Forest in round three, eased past Brighton & Hove Albion, and after hammering Newcastle United, came up against Sheffield United in the semi-finals.
For the majority of that two-legged tie they appeared comfortable, with Christian Eriksen’s sublime free-kick at Bramall Lane giving them a 2-0 aggregate lead. However, two quick goals from an unheralded youngster had them worried before Eriksen rescued Spurs again.
Here, they will inevitably draw inspiration from the manner in which they tore Chelsea apart in defeating the 5-3 on New Year’s Day, and while Eriksen is always capable of providing that little bit of magic, Harry Kane will be the man the North Londoners look to for goals, having proved time and again this season that he is a man for the big occasion.
With Matic absent and John Obi Mikel injured, Ramires is expected to start in the Chelsea midfield, with Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma vying for a place at centre-back.
Tottenham will make changes from their Europa League defeat to Fiorentina, while manager Mauricio Pochettino must decide whether to keep Michel Vorm in goal having played in all of their Capital One Cup games so far this season.
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