The first major silverware of the season is up for grabs. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton preview Sunday afternoon’s big match at Wembley…
This is the 59th edition of the League Cup final in its various guises down the years. The Blues are appearing in our 20th major cup final in the 22 years since Roberto Di Matteo inspired the team to FA Cup glory at Wembley in 1997.
This is the club’s 25th appearance at the redeveloped stadium. Of the 24 to date, 12 have been won and 11 lost (included penalty shoot-outs). The first, against the Manchester City’s cross-town rivals United in 2007, was settled by Didier Drogba’s extra-time strike. Victory on Sunday would be the Londoners’ fifth trophy success at the stadium since its regeneration.
Despite recent success for both clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City square up in a major final for the first time on Sunday (for our only previous Wembley showdown, visit here). Both sides have raised this trophy five times before and only Liverpool can lay claim to more.
Alone among teams faced by City this season, Maurizio Sarri’s side and Klopp’s Reds have prevented them from scoring over 90 minutes, although the Blues are still smarting from a more recent 6-0 defeat at the Etihad.
Sarri has actually won 28 of his first 43 games in all competitions since arriving in west London, one more than Pep Guardiola, his adversary across the technical area on Sunday, managed in his opening 43 at Manchester City. He could become only the second Italian allenatore to lift this trophy after Gianluca Vialli, who did so with Chelsea in 1998.
Chelsea have beaten two of the current top four in the table – Liverpool and Tottenham – en route to Sunday’s final in which we will face a third, Manchester City.
— Key stat
You can relive the highlights of Chelsea’s campaign to date in this video.
Going into our 37th visit to the national stadium in all competitions, the Londoners have a record of which to be proud.
In those five drawn matches at Wembley, the Blues have won one and lost three in penalty shoot-outs. The other drawn game, the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds, went to a replay at Old Trafford the Londoners won 2-1. City have won both their Wembley spot-kick deciders. Their only other draw, the 1981 FA Cup final against Tottenham, was replayed at the same venue, Spurs winning 3-2.
Including unofficial war-time tournaments, this is Chelsea’s 19th cup final visit to this iconic ground, beneath its old twin towers or current illuminated ‘tiara’.
Current holders City have dominated this tournament over the past five years, snatching the crown three times to Chelsea’s one. But the Citizens are still behind the Blues – and their Red Devils rivals – on a silverware count since they were acquired by the Abu Dhabi United Group in September 2008.
Thursday’s aggregate 5-1 win against Malmo was the Blues’ first success in a European knockout tie since Paris Saint-Germain in the 2013/14 quarter-finals. That was on away goals after a 1-3 loss in France and 2-0 at the Bridge. The last outright two-leg win was against Galatasaray in the previous Round of 16.
Sarri’s men won both legs against the Swedes, something the Blues had not managed in an all-or-nothing tie since the Europa League semi-final against Basel, the year we won it – also a 5-1 aggregate.
By the way, in clarification for those puzzled by Chelsea wearing blue socks and Malmo sporting white, this was requested by UEFA.
Thursday’s progress took the club’s involvement in three competitions into this weekend.
Tottenham are facing a big week, with Wednesday’s trip to the Bridge followed by a neighbourly visit by Arsenal on Saturday, and the Champions League second leg at Dortmund three days later.
Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final game against university-linked team Durham Ladies will be at New Ferens Park in the Belmont Industrial Centre at 12 noon on Sunday 17 March. Subsidised travel is available
The UEFA Youth League draw paired Chelsea with newcomers Montpellier of France in the Round of 16 (12/13 March). Should the Blues progress we will face the winners of Dinamo Zagreb-Liverpool in the quarter-finals (2/3 April).
The Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) will be trialled at Wembley as it was – controversially – in the semi-finals. VAR Martin Atkinson can review goals, penalties awarded or not awarded, direct red cards shown or not shown (second yellows are not reviewed) and cases of mistaken identity.
If the scores are level after normal time, 30 minutes extra will be played. If there is still no winner the victors will be decided by shots from the penalty mark in the ABAB format. Chelsea have won our two most recent shoot-outs and City their last five.
As usual in this competition, should the match enter extra-time, an additional substitute may be used (up to a maximum of four).
After the match, the Football League presents 23 souvenir medallions to the winning and losing clubs: 18 for the players, one each for the coach, club secretary and physio, and two at the club’s discretion. (Back in 1965, when the Blues became London’s first winners of the League Cup, each participant was presented with a pewter tankard.)
On Sunday, look out also for splendid banners adorning the Chelsea end at Wembley, produced in consultation with fan organisations We Are the Shed and CFCUK.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND…
Royal blue ribbons on the tri-handled trophy for the sixth time.
Premier League fixtures this weekend
Cardiff 1 Watford 5
West Ham 3 Fulham 1
Burnley v Tottenham 12.30pm - Sky Sports
Bournemouth v Wolves 3pm
Newcastle v Huddersfield 3pm
Leicester v Crystal Palace 5.30pm - BT Sport
Arsenal v Southampton 2.05pm
Manchester United v Liverpool 2.05pm - Sky Sports