Too often, Tottenham fans rejoice in moral victories when playing Chelsea. They spend less money, aren’t greedy enough to win everything, and generally cheat less. That was once again the feeling bounding around Wembley at the final whistle of the Capital One Cup final as Chelsea marched away with a 2-0 victory, despite Spurs’ best efforts.
On this day, Spurs’ ‘little victory’ was the atmosphere – that is coming from a fan who was confined to the lofty heights of the very top of the top tier. Even following Chelsea’s goals, the Spurs end rocked from start to finish. There is a reason it has become known as the people’s cup final. For unlike the FA Cup or Champions League, this is a final for large, large numbers of real football fans.
The party atmosphere in the bars beforehand, and indeed along Wembley Way carried on into the stadium. The odds may have been stacked in Chelsea’s favour, but there was a glimmer of hope with Nemanja Matic suitably suspended for his outburst against Burnley the week before. Chelsea’s record without him has been poor this season, but that was never going to be the deciding factor on its own.
On the contrary, the Lilywhites’ was characteristically ‘Spursy’. They displayed it once again in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Swansea – they are one of the Premier League’s few clubs with the ability to dominate play and go 1-0 down time and time again. In front of a boisterous Spurs end, John Terry’s struck after a poor clearance and saw the ball go through three defenders before hitting the back of the net. The party was finally being spoiled.
The frustration amongst Spurs fans was tangible. Chelsea seemed virtually impossible to break down, displaying the defensive prowess expected of any Jose Mourinho side. Even Spurs’ sole goal machine Harry Kane could not make much of an impression. Neither could Soldado.
That said, Mourinho was full of post-match praise for his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino, who still has much to offer and was not outclassed by the Portuguese perfectionist. This year has at the very least seen the Argentine – who only took over from Tim Sherwood in the summer – reach a cup final and manage a respectable top four battle.
Kyle Walker’s own goal sealed Tottenham’s fate, but their ultimate failure to carve out decent chances had long been their undoing. In truth, neither Chelsea nor Spurs looked anything like the sides that took to the White Hart Lane pitch on New Year’s Day for Tottenham’s 5-2 win. Lightning was always unlikely to strike twice, but the resounding feeling amongst an ever-cheery crowd on the return journey out of Wembley was that Spurs had done themselves proud. On a side note, Matic’s week of misery continued as he bizarrely managed to injure himself in Chelsea’s celebrations, which were played out to an equally bizarre backing track of Uptown Funk. Undignified indeed.
There is always a sense of inevitability about Mourinho winning trophies; this was the 21st of his career. Consciously or not, he rubbed salt into the wounds by giving veteran – and current contender for world’s slowest man – Didier Drogba a last-minute cameo appearance. If Spurs still lack the necessary confidence against the heavyweights, Chelsea have the swagger that leaves them on course for the treble.