Jose Mourinho has revealed that he considered putting out an entire youth side for Chelsea’s Capital One Cup clash against Arsenal, but the wily former Real Madrid and Inter Milan gaffer’s record in cup competitions throughout his career suggests that he will pick a team that can compete with the best and the 11/2 about them going all the way this year looks the value bet in the market.
In his first spell at Stamford Bridge Mourinho won the League Cup twice in three seasons.
The 50-year-old lifted his first trophy as manager of the Blues after a dramatic extra-time win against Liverpool in Cardiff in this competition and then repeated the dose two years later at the same venue against Chelsea’s next round opponents Arsenal.
Mourinho has taken cup competitions seriously enough to pick up medals at each of his four clubs over the last 11 years and named a team packed with talented players including Brazilian international centre-half David Luiz and two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata in their last round win at Swindon.
Chelsea face Arsenal in the last 16, who have never won the League Cup during Arsene Wenger’s time in charge.
The aforementioned Millennium Stadium reverse and a 2-1 loss to Birmingham in 2011 is the closest Arsenal have come to League Cup victory since Steve Morrow’s winner against Sheffield Wednesday over 20 years ago saw the Gunners on their way to a domestic cup double.
However, their longest serving manager and his charges have done little in recent years to suggest they have any intention of remedying that omission.
A strong line-up featuring Wojciech Szczesny, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla went out on penalties last season away to a Bradford side who were in League Two at the time and Wenger’s policy of experimenting with youth in the competition almost backfired in the last round, when they just about edged past West Brom 4-3 in another shoot-out.
Having gone unbeaten in eight games with five wins in a row, Chelsea are the form team in England.
The 2-1 win against Man City was the first time in five matches that the west Londoners failed to score three or more goals and Fernando Torres’ third strike in a week after Joe Hart’s howler was just reward for the Spaniard’s efforts.
With Samuel Eto’o struggling to adapt to life in the Premier League and Demba Ba only featuring sporadically under Mourinho, Torres has started to show signs of his old self and if he continues to provide an outlet up front for the Blues’ wealth of midfield talent Chelsea can expect to compete on all fronts this term.