It's not often that Spurs beat Chelsea, so when they do, it obviously resonates a bit more in the collective consciousness. And when they do it to the tune of 5-3, it might even strike fear into the hearts. You might say that's a terrible state to be in, to be afraid of the Big Bad Harry Kane, but I'd say that's a good thing. At least we won't underestimate them.
Last time we saw Spurs at Wembley was with Di Matteo in charge in the FA Cup. Chelsea waltzed to a 5-1 win then, though as I recall one of those goals was a bit dodgy. It was given since referee Martin Atkinson was still our friend at the time, plus Juan Mata could never tell a lie. Just look at that face. You could never in a million years tell what he's hiding behind it.
Speaking of Mata, nowadays consigned to strict office duty as chief printout-printer for Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, it's a bit shocking to look back on that 5-1 and realize just how much both teams have changed. I'd expect maybe three players from the Chelsea starting eleven to play any part tomorrow as well (Terry, Ramires, and maybe Čech or Drogba), while for Spurs, just one of their starting eleven and two substitutes used even remains on the team (Kyle Walker, with Aaron Lennon out on loan). I suppose that's modern football for you.
When football was slightly less modern, we had already met Spurs in a cup final. The year was 1967, the venue was Wembley, the occasion was the FA Cup ("Cockney Cup Final"). We lost, 2-1, just like we lost in 2008, also at Wembley in the League Cup final. Third time's the charm, then, yes?
Date / Time: Sunday, March 1, 2015, 16:00 GMT; 11am EST; 9:30pm IST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Anthony Taylor -- yes, let's pick the referee who had to apologize to Chelsea and Jose Mourinho, that's how bad his decision was to not award a penalty to Cesc Fàbregas in the 1-1 draw against Southampton. What could possibly go wrong?
Forecast: Chilly, windy, chance of a heavy shower.
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); beIN Sports (USA); Ten HD / Action (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); beIN Sports Connect, Fubo TV, DishWorld (USA)
Chelsea team news: As Mourinho looks to kickstart a second trophy-laden era at Chelsea with another League Cup success just like in 2005 against Liverpool, he will have to do so without our most irreplaceable player, Nemanja Matic who begins his two-match domestic ban. And with Jon Obi Mikel injured, this time with some sort of knee problem, we'll have to make do with a Ramires-Fàbregas pairing in the middle, which should bring back fond memories of relying on Ramires-Lampard for all those games last season. Not in the face!
The rest of the team picks itself. Willian and Oscar will try to compensate for a lack of Matic by pressing extra-hard, while Hazard and Costa and Ivanovic concern themselves with creating chances. Hopefully Kurt Zouma gets to play since Gary Cahill looked rather hopeless against Kane last time. I don't particularly care which of our two goalkeepers plays, but I'm guessing Courtois gets the start just like he did in both legs of the semifinal.
We could really use this one, I think, even if it is "just the League Cup" that we're talking about. Winning is a habit and that habit is largely lacking in the current squad. This is why we brought in proven winners and finished products in the likes of Cesc Fàbregas and Diego Costa. Without them, we threw away advantageous positions in the Premier League and the Champions League last season, we collapsed in the last minute against Bayern in the Super Cup, and we met unfortunate ends in all the other cup competitions. As Graham said, even our last trophy, the Europa League is almost more of a reminder of a spectacular failure than a result of relentless success. Add in the fact that it's Spurs, that we've only got three wins in our last eight in all competitions, and that our ability to score goals has dried up quite significantly, and a win here takes on even greater significance.
Tottenham Hotspur team news: Zero (official) injuries, zero suspensions. Be sure to read Rob's opposition analysis. It's got an AVB joke in it.
Spurs aren't exactly in scintillating form either and have even fewer wins in their last eight than we do (just two). They should also be more tired, after Thursday's game against Fiorentina in Italy. But these sorts of things don't always matter in cup finals. We have to want it, and want it more than they will want it.
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain