Photo Source: The Independent
There’s no more FA Cup football, no League Cup games to worry about for Chelsea now. After a run of Cup games and some controversy, Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea can at least look forward to scuppering Tottenham’s faltering push for the title. Whether the side can pick themselves up from Sunday’s defeat and the inevitable inquest in the aftermath of the on and off-field shenanigans remains to be seen.
Once again, Chelsea have conspired to bring themselves into disrepute and given the media and rival supporters another opportunity to kick us when we’re down. Sunday could and maybe should have so different. Had N’golo Kante fired Eden Hazard’s short pass into the net instead of over it, and extra-time may not have been needed.
The show must go on though and despite the chaos, a place in the top four is still up for grabs. Tottenham visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and for them, the pressure is beginning to build. Mauricio Pochettino lost the plot after his side lost up at Burnley on Saturday, Sarri followed suit on Sunday. Somehow though, they have to come up with a team that will defeat the other. Sarri’s selection will give an indication of if any there was any fall-out from Sunday extra-time kerfuffle.
Goalkeeper – In my opinion, Kepa Arrizabalaga ought to be out of the team for this game, but it’s just too big. Of course, his hamstring injury may have re-occurred after the weekend’s debacle and Willy Caballero may get the opportunity he should have had on Sunday. There’s been a massive over-reaction to the non-substitution but the bottom line is, Kepa should have left the field of play when he was told to. The reaction he gets on Wednesday from home support will be interesting, to say the least.
Defence – Unfortunately, the fallout from Sunday does not stop with the goalkeeper. Cesar Azpilicueta, as the captain, he had an on-pitch responsibility to take the situation by the scruff of the neck. His failure to do so at the time coupled with his embarrassing post-match interview only adds to the belief that he’s not captain material. In the game itself, Dave did OK against City. His penalty in the shoot-out was also good but he should have dealt with Kepa. David Luiz at least tried to talk with the young keeper, all to no avail, but he did at least show a degree of leadership in a team bereft of any. Antonio Rudiger is more suited, in my opinion, to the role of on-field leader and along with his three colleagues kept a clean sheet against City which, in itself, was no mean feat. Sadly that has all been overlooked. Emerson did OK as well and although still not brilliant, he’s surely ahead of Marcos Alonso in the pecking order.
Midfield – Jorginho is very lucky that Kepa-gate happened because the penalty he took in the shoot-out was an absolute shocker. Before that though, he had one of his best games for Chelsea. He was clearly wound up by the boo-ing either he or his introduction brought about at Stamford Bridge against Malmo and he started the game against City with real fire in his belly. N’golo Kante had a man-of-the-match game, covering the whole Wembley pitch without breaking sweat, but spoilt his afternoon by blazing Chelsea’s best chance over the bar, imagine if that had gone in. Ross Barkley was a surprise inclusion for the League Cup Final and will probably be rotated for Mateo Kovacic against Tottenham.
Attack – Goal scoring remains the hardest part of Maurizio Sarri’s fabled footballing system. Eden Hazard played as a ‘false nine’ at the weekend, and up to the point of not actually scoring, he also had a good game. There were times when the focal point of the attack was missing though, Gonzalo Higuain provides that and is set to be restored for the Spurs game. Callum Hudson-Odoi would be my choice to make up the starting XI but I fear it’s more likely to be Pedro who gets the nod for the final spot.
This game will be pivotal for Sarri, there’s every chance a loss will see him fired. However, if he can rally his side to beat Spurs, it will have to go down as one of his best wins given recent circumstances.
Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Hazard, Pedro, Higuain
Do you see Kepa being dropped? Let us know in the comments box below.
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