Chelsea play cross-town rivals Spurs on Wednesday, so we sat down with cross-network blog-friend Sean Cahill of Cartilage Free Captain for a brief Q&A. Be sure to check out the reverse version over on their site, where we talk Kepa, Sarri, Hazard, Abramovich ... and Celebrity Deathmatch?
WAGNH: Spurs have once again put the pressure on but appear to be the third wheel in the Liverpool-City dance. What are the expectations for the rest of the season (including in Europe)?
CFC: Maintain top four and make as deep a run as possible in the Champions League. Even before the loss to Burnley, it would have taken Spurs running the table and taking all 36 points in order to win the title if Pool/City didn’t have any slip ups. Given the injury crisis this club had in December and January, the fact that they’re still in third at this point is pretty remarkable.
The Champions League is the case of luck of the draw sometimes, and right now Spurs are in the driver’s seat to get to the quarterfinals. If they pull it off, it’ll be their deepest run in the tournament since Real Madrid knocked them out back in 2010-11. As the late Jim Valvano put it: Survive and advance, and they’re doing just that.
WAGNH: There seems to be a sense that this is as good as it’s going to get for Spurs. Is that correct-ish, and if so, how does that make you feel? If it isn’t, what’s the plan for making that final step up?
CFC: I don’t think so. I will acknowledge that Spurs missed their best chance at the title in forever the last couple of season, especially the year that Leicester City won it. This summer is going to be, arguably, the most important transfer window in recent memory for Spurs. There are a lot of questions that will be answered: Poch staying or going, Eriksen staying or going, shoring up the midfield, maybe getting new fullbacks....only time will tell.
WAGNH: Chelsea have a two-window transfer ban looming and that sounds scary, but having seen Spurs go through a self-enforced two-window transfer ban, is there any advice you can give to us?
CFC: Get yourself a bottle of good bourbon and cheap whiskey. Sip on the bourbon during the window and chug the whiskey when the window ends. Rinse and repeat for the Winter and you’ll be good.
All joking aside, it’s weird. The summer was a case of “Players targeted but couldn’t strike a deal” whereas the winter was “lol we aren’t doing business” basically. To basically punish ourselves, we read every bit of news we could and heard every rumor under the sun: THERE’S NO MONEY! WE HAVE MONEY BUT LEVY WON’T MAKE THE DEAL! OMG WE HAVE NO TARGETS! WE HAVE TARGETS BUT POCH DOESN’T LIKE THEM!
It’s exhausting and I hate silly season so much.
WAGNH: What’s more likely, Mauricio Pochettino takes over Manchester United, or he invites Mike Dean over for high tea?
CFC: Honestly? Pochettino inviting Dean over still seems more plausible because I believe he’d drug the tea and lock him in the basement, tie him up, and pry his eyes open Clockwork Orange style. He’d force him to watch the Battle of the Bridge on repeat with his hands just out of reach of his red card sitting on the table in front of him.
WAGNH: Y’all ever gonna play in that new stadium?
CFC: I’ve lost count of how many delays there’s been and, frankly, it doesn’t matter at this point. We’re either going to play starting at the end of March, beginning of April, next season or post-apocalypse at this point. Honestly, with the rumblings we’ve heard, it’s looking like we may get the last five home matches in this season. We are expecting the club to announce back to back test events in the next couple of weeks. If those go well and someone doesn’t fart on an open match to cause a fire, this seems to be the home stretch.
WAGNH: Who’s more adorable, Kanté or Son?
While I acknowledge that Kante is adorable and it’s hard to hate the guy, I’m biased. Sonny is the most pure man in football. His smile lights up everything and it would absolutely devastate all of us on Cartilage Free Captain if anything negative came out about him.
WAGNH: What sort of approach can we expect from Spurs on Wednesday? Chelsea played arguably their best game of the season the last time we met — will Spurs look to change things up or just bank on Chelsea’s inconsistencies?
CFC: This is a rough stretch for Spurs, especially after coming off of a loss. Chelsea at the Bridge, Arsenal in Wembley, and then a trip to Signal Iduna Park to hopefully put Dortmund away. This is exciting and it is nerve-wracking all in one nice package.
I don’t expect too much in the way of rotation on Wednesday. Harry looked good on Saturday and got a goal to get him on the right foot. I’ll say that they go right at Chelsea and roll with this formation:
Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Sissoko, Eriksen; Kane, Son (3-5-2)
Normally I would predict a draw at the Bridge with everything going on, but as I said in a piece not long ago, drawing is for art students. We do not draw.
I think we can all agree, may the best team in Blue win!