Ahead of the first leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final with Tottenham, assistant Carlo Cudicini has emphasised Chelsea’s desire to win the competition this season...
Having represented both teams during his playing days, the Italian knows how intense these London derbies are and is fully aware of the threat of Mauricio Pochettino’s side, but hopes our FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest can give us the impetus to get a positive result at Wembley on Tuesday night.
‘In this period games are coming thick and fast and it’s good because it means we are still in all the competitions,’ said Cudicini after Saturday’s 2-0 victory. ‘In a few days we have a very important game, we need a bit of rest to get the energy back and then go again because obviously it is a competition that when you reach the semi-finals you want to go all the way. Obviously we know the level of the opponent.’
Cudicini was part of the Chelsea squad which won the League Cup in 2005 and 2007, with the first of those paving the way for our inaugural Premier League triumph, and he is well aware of the positive impact lifting this trophy can have.
‘It’s always important to win the first trophy of the season,’ he said. ‘You have the chance to win it in February and it can help to then have an even better end of the season. As a club, we consider all the trophies to be important and we have the chance to reach the final and we obviously want to do well.’
Cudicini – who holds the role of assistant to the head coach – gave his thoughts on how he thinks Maurizio Sarri has fared in his first half season at Chelsea and explained how the likes of he and Gianfranco Zola have tried to offer the benefit of their experience of top-level football in this country.
‘It’s always difficult for managers to come and change and be part of the Premier League,’ he said. ‘This division is one of a kind with so many games and the challenge of the competition is so high.
‘I had the luck to work with Antonio Conte before and now with Maurizio. It’s a big difference from any other country, so it takes a bit of time to understand how it works and Maurizio is doing that.
‘Obviously with Gianfranco next to him it’s a big help – everyone in the staff that has had a chance to have a bit of experience in this league is trying to do his best to make his life a bit easier if we can. I think the team is doing well and it can only improve. We are on the right path.’
The former goalie – who played between the sticks 216 times for the Blues – also gave a glowing review of Kepa Arrizabalaga following the young Spaniard’s move to Chelsea last summer.
‘It’s kind of the same thing that I just said for Maurizio. Especially for a goalkeeper, the Premier League is a different way. I remember when I first joined here and it was a big difference. The physicality, the speed of the game – it’s a totally different way of playing your game – and I think he adapted very well.'