Chelsea won their first trophy of the season last night, beating Tottenham 2-0 at Wembley. John Terry scored first sending in a deflected ball off Dier from point-blank rage. The contest was settled in the 56th minute when Spaniard striker Costa’s fierce shot deflected off Tottenham’s Kyle Walker before flying towards the net. The win ensured Chelsea their 5th League Cup in the history.
In this article, we shall explore the major talking points after the Capital One Cup victory of Chelsea and what implications these have on the team as well as the individuals concerned.
1. Mourinho knows how to win finals
Chelsea faced Tottenham yesterday for the first time after their shocking 5-3 defeat against the Spurs at the White Hart Lane. That defeat coupled with Harry Kane’s marvelous performance had the Blues slightly in back-foot. However, the Special One tweaked the formation of his side and finally drew the last laugh of the night.
Firstly, he made a few decisive changes with the starting lineup. Prior to the match, Thibaut Courtois admitted that he never took part in a tie-breaker. Sensing the urgency, Mourinho included Petr Cech in the main XI despite Courtois’s heroic performance against Liverpool in the semifinals. It was the right call as Cech kept a clean sheet, one of his many this season and proved that he still has what it takes to stand between the goalposts for Chelsea.
Secondly, Mourinho did not have the services of defensive midfielder Matic in this game, due to his controversial red card against Burnley last week. He decided to take a bold step and introduced Kurt Zouma in the holding midfield position. This would go on to be one of the deciding factors for the game as Zouma would put up one of the best performances of his career ensuring defensive stability for the team.
Besides, the inclusion of Ramires in midfield, Costa playing the lone striker up front as well as Chelsea’s willingness to concede possession yet refusing Spurs to press higher up the pitch indicated that Mou had been spot on with his calls for the final, thus winning his 21st title as a football manager.
2. It will be the first of many trophies for Chelsea this season
Last night’s Capital One Cup victory was not the only occasion for the Blues to celebrate. Prior to the final, Premier League rivals City lost to Liverpool and remained 5 points behind Chelsea, having played a game more. Despite Mourinho claiming that City and Manchester United are still alive in the title race, the contrasting performance of Chelsea and their rivals suggest that the league is also returning to Stamford Bridge.
Should Chelsea extend their gap in the upcoming matches, Mourinho can rest his key players and rotate the squad, thus enabling his players to rest before the important Champions League fixtures later in the season. At the moment, Chelsea are among the top four favorites to win the UEFA Champions League and their dominance in the league suggests that the trophy hunt will continue for the Blues.
3. Kurt Zouma’s sublime performance will ensure him more playing time
Zouma has fought for the center back position with Gary Cahill since the beginning of the season. The Terry-Cahill partnership at the center has been a set combination for the team and it seems to be so for the rest of the season. But Chelsea have struggled in games where defensive midfielder Matic didn’t start. Obi Mikel’s poor run of form was a headache for Mourinho in those games.
However, with his outstanding performance in the League Cup final, Zouma has cemented his spot as the backup holding midfielder should Matic be rested for any game. This is a bad news for Mikel who might not feature anymore for the rest of the season. Mourinho later called Zouma the ‘Desailly’ of his side. It remains to be seen as to how Mourinho lines up his team in future games. Zouma can either feature as a CB or play in the holding midfield beside Fabregas.
4. Diego Costa rose up to the occasion and silenced his critics
Diego Costa was named as the only striker for Chelsea in the final as Mourinho benched Drogba, the Blues’ legend who loves to score in finals for his team. Costa did not disappoint his manager and played a pivotal role in his side’s victory. Though Terry scored the first goal, Costa’s effort in the 56th minute that resulted in a deflected goal from Kyle Walker decided the fate of the game. The goal killed any chances Spurs had of mounting a comeback in the match.
The goal silenced his critics and boosted his confidence after he returned from the 3-match ban following his stamp on Emre Can of Liverpool during the Cup semifinal. Should he continue this goalscoring form, Chelsea’s task of winning key fixtures will be much easier later this season.
5. Both Mourinho and Chelsea end their trophy drought
As a manager, Mourinho won his 21st title after 914 days of winning his 20th one. It was an embarrassing record for a manager like the Special One. His side Chelsea on the other hand, did not win any silverware last season. The Capital One Cup victory was a sigh of relief for the manager as well as for his squad. With Abramovic as the owner, Mourinho knew that a second season without any trophy could spell his end as the manager of Chelsea. With these embarrassing numbers left behind, the Blues can march their way up to more victories and silverware now.
Following their League Cup win, Chelsea will face West Ham for their Premier League clash this Wednesday. Their current performance indicates that they don’t have much to worry entering the contest and should win convincingly.