Saturday 28 February 2015 10:21, UK
As they aim for Capital One Cup glory on Sunday, Chelsea and Tottenham players will prepare as a team but know that individual battles must be won if the trophy is to be theirs.
Will Harry Kane have too much for John Terry? Could Christian Eriksen outwit Branislav Ivanovic? We pick out the key battles on Sunday…
Kane v Terry
Terry has just about seen it all and the experienced defender is in good form too. In fact, given Vincent Kompany’s recent struggles, he has a strong case to – once again – be regarded as the Premier League’s best centre-back. But even Terry had no answer to Kane when Chelsea and Tottenham last met on New Year’s Day. Kane scored a brace in a 5-3 win as the Blues defence was torn apart. “You have to look at the way he played against Chelsea at White Hart Lane,” Alan Shearer told Sky Sports. “Not many players give John Terry and Gary Cahill the run around.”
Of course, the young forward hasn’t had it all his own way. Indeed, Spurs were beaten 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in December. But it’s difficult to come up with a plan against Kane – a player good enough to enjoy the space if an opponent defends deep and quick enough to expose Terry if Chelsea opt to push up. It will be fascinating to see what Jose Mourinho and his captain come up with to ensure they are better prepared to deal with Kane’s qualities on Sunday.
Eriksen v Ivanovic
Christian Eriksen's goals have won Spurs 13 extra points this season
When it comes to goals, Eriksen and Ivanovic’s interjections have become something of a feature of the season. Eriksen’s goals have picked up a whopping 13 Premier League points so far this season – six of them in the dying moments of matches. The Dane also played an important part in securing Tottenham them a place at Wembley with his brilliant brace in the second leg of the semi-final against Sheffield United proving just enough to deny the League One team.
Ivanovic is likely to have marking duties against Eriksen on Sunday with the Dane cutting inside to find space from the left. But if he does so it might only succeed in unleashing Ivanovic. The burly full-back doesn’t have the physique of a marauding wide player, but past history suggests he should not be underestimated and with four goals in his last six games, including the extra-time winner against Liverpool in the semi-final, don’t be shocked if it’s the Serb with the final say on Sunday.
Hazard v Vertonghen
On the other flank, Tottenham will have to deal with the considerable threat of Eden Hazard. The sensational winger has come in for some harsh treatment this season with Mourinho disgusted after the Belgian was fouled nine times against Paris St Germain in midweek. The Chelsea boss claims that “in Premier League it’s no different” and the statistics support Mourinho with Hazard being the most fouled player in the Premier League this season.
It will take Tottenham teamwork to stop him on Sunday and that could mean Hazard’s international team-mate Jan Vertonghen having to come to the rescue when the wide man drifts inside. The Spurs man knows how tough that will be and predicted Hazard’s success when he arrived in the Premier League in 2012. “He has an amazing technique and I think he will change the style of playing for Chelsea,” said Vertonghen back then. A starring performance by Hazard at Wembley would mark that ‘new Chelsea’ and Vertonghen will have his work cut out preventing it.
Watch the Capital One Cup final live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 2.30pm on Sunday