Jose Mourinho appeared on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday last weekendy and continued his attack on referees. Chelsea drew 1-1 with Burnley in a match which saw referee Martin Atkinson turn down two penalty appeals, send off Nemanja Matic for two bookable offences, and fail to dismiss Ashley Barnes for a studs-high challenge. Whether they were unlucky or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Mourinho showed vulnerability by blaming others for their misfortune. The Blues didn’t play well in that game and had just as many shots on target as Burnley did with five. Mourinho has probably tried to deflect the attention away from his players by focusing on the media and referees. But the form guide suggests that Chelsea are faltering, particularly away from home. They have only won three of their last six away games including losses to Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.
That loss against Spurs gives them the psychological edge going into this cup final, John Terry and Gary Cahill know that if they make a mistake then Harry Kane will punish them, which puts more pressure on the defence. The striker has been in great form, scoring 24 goals in all competitions, while Christian Eriksen has also had an impressive season with 11 goals and four assists. In comparison, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have been going through a lean spell since the turn of the year. Fabregas hasn’t scored since 22 December when he netted against Stoke City, while his assists have also dried up. Before Christmas, he averaged 118.1 minutes per assist, currently it is 181.3 minutes. Costa has also suffered from a slight dip in form, overall his numbers are impressive with 18 goals in 31 games. However, he scored 11 goals in his first ten league games, since then he has struggled to find the net with the same consistency. So a combination of losing to Spurs in their last meeting, and the loss in form of key players will give Tottenham a great chance in the final.
Chelsea are the clear favourites as they have a stronger squad, and a more experienced manager. But games are very rarely ever won on paper and Birmingham City’s win against Arsenal in the League Cup final in 2011 highlights that. Birmingham were fighting relegation that season and had a team full of grafters rather than world-class players, whereas the Gunners had Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri. However, anything can happen over 90 minutes and cup finals are often attritional affairs, it’s not often that you see one team running away with it. Teams are often cagey as they know the first goal is vital and that means the match often plays out like a game of chess. This could suit Spurs as they will be able to maintain their shape knowing that an onslaught from Chelsea’s attacking players is very unlikely.
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