We’ve got the game of the round in the Carabao Cup this evening as Tottenham Hotspur welcome rivals Chelsea to Wembley for the first leg.
We’re in for a treat with a two-legged semi-final between London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and the first leg kicks off this evening.
The games between the two clubs are so often entertaining affairs and tonight is likely to be no different as the two old rivals renew their rivalry once again.
But beyond all that, beyond the hatred for the two clubs, there’s a competition to be won and with both Tottenham and Chelsea unlikely to mount any real challenge for the league title, both will be hoping to pick up domestic trophies, as well as looking to do well in Europe.
Clubs of this side have to have success somewhere, and when it doesn’t come in the league, fans expect them to do well in other competitions, and rightly so given the level of investment these clubs now have.
The issue is, whoever progresses from this semi-final will almost certainly face Manchester City in the final, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, as the old saying goes.
But who needs it more? Which manager needs Carabao Cup to save face this season?
On one side, you have Mauricio Pochettino, one of the most sought-after managers in world football following his transformation of Southampton and now Tottenham. However, this is a manager who has never actually won anything. Beyond Manager of the Month, his honours category remains empty and there comes a time when every manager must prove himself with success, with trophies and silverware.
Granted, he doesn’t have the biggest budget at Tottenham, and that is the caveat in that statistic, but he does have a wealth of talent at his disposal. In Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, he has two top 50 best players in the world.
He has to utilise that to win something sooner rather than later, and what a way to go into the new stadium, a new project, by winning his first trophy with the club.
Just across London, you have Chelsea who could also do with winning a trophy in what’s been a season to forget so far.
The context to that is that this is Maurizio Sarri’s first season I charge and it’s always going to take time for him to get his way of play across, especially given the unique nature of his tactics.
Chelsea expected there to be transition time and they certainly weren’t expecting to challenge for the title this season.
However, this is a successful club that expects to compete in at least some competitions and a Carabao Cup title would bridge the gap nicely ahead of next season when Sarri will be expected to do better, even if it is without Eden hazard and with whoever his replacement may be. The difference with Chelsea is that they have a big chance of winning the Europa League this season.
They’ll have some big obstacles to overcome, but Sarri’s football thrives in Europe and Chelsea are one of the favourites to win the competition this season. Europa League glory would undoubtedly represent success for this season.
For Tottenham, Champions League glory is realistically an impossibility given the clubs still left in the competitions, so that realistically leaves them with only two hopes for success, the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. It’s for that reason, and Pochettino’s need for silverware to rubber stamp his reputation as an up-and-coming superstar manager, that Tottenham need this Carabao title to much more.
But that means little to Chelsea and Spurs have a huge task on their hands to beat Chelsea over two legs and then to go and beat Manchester City in the final, should they beat Burton Albion.
Should they achieve it, Tottenham would have to be seen as a club to really take notice of going in to next year when they’ll have a new stadium, a strong squad and a new trophy to kick off a glittery new regime.