Tottenham must recreate the display that saw them to victory over Chelsea on New Year’s Day if they are to beat the Blues and get their hands on the League Cup, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Having had a poor record against the Premier League’s top sides, Pochettino oversaw a memorable 5-3 win against their London rivals at the turn of the year, with Harry Kane particularly impressive as he scored a brace.
Spurs will go into tomorrow’s final on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Fiorentina which saw them knocked out of the Europa League but Pochettino remains confident the club’s first trophy since 2008 is possible.
“We got this victory against Chelsea on January 1 and it is important for belief,” he said.
“I think it will be a different game, a final is always different.
“If you saw the game, our performance was nearly perfect and we played very well. We need to repeat the same performance to come close to winning the trophy.
“When you arrive at Tottenham, you know they are a big club. It is important to always be close to play for a big competition and try to get the trophy – for us it is a very good opportunity.
“It is true there have been many years without a trophy so this is a very good chance to give the club another.”
Pochettino will come up against Jose Mourinho once again, with the duo having faced one another in the Primera Division with Mourinho at Real Madrid while Pochettino was in charge of Espanyol.
“We have a very good relationship from Spain,” he said of the Portuguese ahead of tomorrow’s Wembley encounter.
“He is a manager I admire a lot. I think he is one of the best, if not the best, in the world. For me it is an honour to play a final against him.
“In our minds we feel we are always stronger than the opponent – we work hard to provide that feeling to the players and it is a very positive thing for us.”
The Chelsea boss caused a stir with comments made on television last weekend and has long-claimed that there is a ‘campaign’ against his side.
Mourinho’s latest rant came after midfielder Nemanja Matic was sent off for reacting to a poor challenge from Burnley’s Ashley Barnes with the Serbia international now missing the final through suspension.
Mourinho has been outspoken against the level of officiating this season, but Pochettino is not worried about referee Anthony Taylor or his assistants being influenced tomorrow.
“No, I don’t think the decisions of the referee will be affected,” he added.
“They are professional and we have trust in them. I don’t think we need to be scared or worry about that.”
Matic’s automatic three-match ban was reduced to two in mitigation, but the Blues announced they were “appalled” and “frustrated” by the decision not to absolve the midfielder.
Mourinho, who last weekend labelled Barnes’s challenge “criminal”, would not comment yesterday on Matic’s Wembley absence.
“If I give you my views, it’s bad for me,” he said. “If I speak again about the Matic situation I will be in big trouble.”
Mourinho has lamented a “clear campaign” against his side this season, but hopes he will not have further reason to complain in “a final we have to win” as he bids for a first trophy of his second spell.
He hopes tomorrow’s officials, led by referee Taylor, operate at their optimum.
“It’s easy for me to say that I don’t believe that anyone involved in this game doesn’t want to make his best,” said Mourinho.
“I believe all three teams will go with the same ambition to do very well and hopefully even the players that like to complicate things try to make the final a good final.”
Mourinho believes the good relationship he has with Tottenham counterpart Pochettino means fourth official Craig Pawson will have a quiet afternoon.
“Easy job for the fourth official, because in between both benches, for sure, peace,” said Mourinho.
Pressed on “the players that like to complicate things,” Mourinho said: “The players that dive looking for fouls, the players that dive looking for cards.”
He has been outspoken in his criticism of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen in recent times.
“You don’t need me to say names, because you know exactly the same as I know,” the Blues boss added.
Mourinho was speaking 10 years to the day since winning his first trophy as Chelsea boss, following a 3-2 defeat of Liverpool in the 2005 League Cup final.
Chelsea went on to win the championship for the first time in 50 years that season and this term are bidding for a first Premier League title in five years.
The Blues are five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who tomorrow have an opportunity to cut the gap to two points with victory at Liverpool, albeit having played a game more.
Mourinho, who is bidding for a third League Cup, says he is thinking only of Chelsea’s match.
“Since I arrived in July 2013 it’s the first time I don’t think about the future of this club,” added Mourinho.
“I just think about the moment. I just think about this game. We have a final to win on Sunday and nothing else matters.”