It’s been seven months since Chelsea last played Tottenham, which means that it’s been seven months since we last chatted with Cartilage Free Captain’s ‘GN Punk’. As is tradition, we talked a bit about transfer rumors, expectations, and a few predictions for Sunday’ showdown. Be sure to check out the reverse version over on “Carty Free”.
WAGNH: Spurs seem to have flown a bit under the radar this season, but currently look like good candidates for finishing as the highest placed London team. How does that measure up to pre-season expectations?
CFC: Knowing what everyone added to their rosters prior to the start of this season, if you offered me “top finishing London club” I would have probably taken it because it usually means a Top 4 spot. Spurs have played a fairly solid campaign. They put to rest the bullshit of the Wembley curse to the point where pundits are now complaining about Spurs having an unfair advantage going into the FA Cup semifinals. They still need to get over the hump and win some silverware, but top four, knockouts of the Champions League, and a deep FA cup run is pretty good.
WAGNH: Does the aforementioned situation help or hurt your absolute need to hang on to the likes of Kane, Dele, Eriksen, Alderweireld, etc?
CFC: Honestly, the fear of losing the first three hasn’t been very high. Kane is reportedly going to sign the club’s biggest contract at the end of the season while Dele, Eriksen, Son, and several others are going to get a bumper as well.
Toby Alderweireld, on the other hand, is good as gone. Much like you guys have your “surefire” reporters who, when they write something you can basically take it to the bank, we have one with our beloved Belgians: Kristof Terreur. [Ed.note: Terreur should be a familiar name around these parts, too, thanks to Hazard, Courtois, Batshuayi ... and ... sigh ... De Bruyne and Lukaku, too.] He reported that Spurs cut off talks in January because Toby wanted to get paid about £160k/week and Spurs were only willing to go to £110k/week. Both sides have been saying the right things in public so this doesn’t get to be a messy divorce, but expect Toby to be sold to the continent for around £50m this summer, if not more. Paris Saint-Germain is his most likely landing spot with Real and Barca both looking long and hard at him.
WAGNH: Speaking of the best striker in the league, is he going to play on Sunday?
CFC: Team news came out early this morning and all that was said on Twitter was “@HKane (ankle) - continuing to step up rehabilitation.”
He was spotted at Hotspur Way over the weekend talking to Gareth Southgate with no brace at all. Kane seems to have the rehab powers of John Cena in that he’s a freak and comes back early from injuries. That being said, I’d be surprised if he played. If it was another week, I’d be willing to jump on that bandwagon.
WAGNH: Would you rather sell Danny Rose to Chelsea or to Manchester United? Would like to remind that we helped you dodge the Ross Barkley bullet.
CFC: I’m still convinced you guys bought Ross Barkley and chained him up under Stamford Bridge with the ghost of Fernando Torres. I’ll bet if you put your ear to the pitch, you can hear Barkley crying while Torres yells “¡ESPERA! ¡ESPERA! I CAN STILL SCORE!” (My favorite Carty Free article ever.)
Honestly, there’s a question whether Spurs even sell Rose now. He’s been banged up the last two seasons with lengthy injury spells and that’s hurt his value. I figured before the most recent injury, Spurs were going to be fine with selling him to United and asking for Luke Shaw back plus some cash. Now, it’s basically a shrug and who the hell knows.
WAGNH: Anything new in Spurs’ tactical arsenal that we should be worried about? (That’s assuming we don’t allow Eriksen and Dele to re-create their usual goals against us.)
CFC: Well, without Kane in the lineup, Spurs have been playing this rotating monster of an attacking front that is basically Son, Eriksen, Dele, and either Lucas Moura or Erik Lamela pressing teams into oblivion. It’s been fun as hell to watch, especially with Lucas’ dribbling ability and Lamela’s willingness to break legs by any means necessary. The change is basically realizing that Spurs aren’t relying on England’s #9 and are generating goals without him.
WAGNH: Spurs loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers partnered Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga for the USA against Paraguay and they kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 friendly win. Does that make them World Cup 2022 champions or World Cup 2022 AND 2026 champions?
CFC: I watched the USMNT for the first time since their failure to qualify for the World Cup. It’s sad that it took such a dreadful result to force the youth movement, but it was refreshing. CCV and Miazga are still young but they showed a nice partnership. People also have to remember that Miazga is only 22 and CCV is 20. They aren’t at their ceilings just yet and hopefully they have a lot of room to grow.
Going deeper with the USMNT, Wil Trapp is a name for everyone to remember that watches the USA because he was a rock in midfield and is the best no.6 the country has right now. Given that the other options are the corpse of Michael Bradley and whatever remains of Kyle Beckerman’s dreadlocks, Trapp should be in every call up for the next five to seven years.
WAGNH: Did Spurs truly overcome the Wembley hoodoo? Any advice for Chelsea or Chelsea fans ahead of our impending temporary relocation there in a couple years?
CFC: I mentioned this in your first question, and yeah the hoodoo is gone. They’ve dropped only three matches at Wembley: Chelsea early in the season, the collapse in the Carabao Cup against West Ham that should have been a cruise control win, and the home loss against Juventus that resulted in elimination from the Champions League. It’s funny watching pundits spin this around to it suddenly being a huge advantage for Spurs and not the opposite.
Honestly, the best thing I can say is when that stadium is fully open, it’s loud as hell. The Liverpool and Arsenal matches especially were deafening and really made a difference, so the Chelsea board should be pushing to have a fully open stadium.
WAGNH: Five into four means one will have to make do with the Europa. Who will have the honor to travel to far-off lands and mid-size towns without direct flights to London?
CFC: Going into March, I was thinking it would be Liverpool, but they seem to have fixed their defensive problems though their midfield is still an interesting collection of players. Now? It’s going to be one of Spurs or Chelsea, and I’m leaning towards you guys. This match on Sunday is really going to dictate the direction of the race. United and Pool are obviously hoping for a draw to help themselves, and I’d honestly take that at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea win this match, and god only knows who comes out in the top four.
WAGNH: Expected lineup for the Battle of the Bridge: Champions League Drift?
CFC: As much as I want to, I can’t put Kane in the Starting XI, so here’s what you get:
4-2-3-1: Lloris (C); Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen, Dele, Lamela; Son
10) Final score or yellow card totals prediction?
2-2 Draw, because Spurs do not win at Stamford Bridge. I’ll set the Over/Under on Yellow Cards to 7.5 and take the over.