Nemanja Matic’s red card couldn’t have come at a worse time for Jose Mourinho and, barring a successful appeal, it leaves him with a selection headache going into the Chelsea’s first final of the season.
John Obi Mikel would be the natural successor to the Serbian for the final but as he is currently injured, it looks as if Mourinho could be forced to pair Ramires and Cesc Fabregas as the sitting midfielders in the line-up that walks out onto the pitch at Wembley.
Nevertheless, we take a look at three options Mourinho could consider using against Tottenham Hotspur in what could be the biggest gamble of his managerial career since his return to Stamford Bridge.
The 18-year-old plays the same position week in, week out for Chelsea’s Under-21 side and has been previously trusted in a Champions League game.
The England Under-20 international is a tall domineering midfielder, who will have come up against the likes of Harry Kane and Ryan Mason before at youth level and will have good knowledge on his opposition. He is unlikely to be crowded out of midfield and it could act as the perfect platform for him to kick-start his Blues career once and for all.
Almost a forgotten man due to the amount of football he has played this season. However, it could prove to be the game that tests his ability and true potential.
Now 20, the talented Dutch youth international will be hungry to get more first team experience and earn his place in Mourinho’s side. He has appeared just six times at all levels for Chelsea this season, with his last coming at the start of January in a 3-2 defeat to Manchester City Under-21s in the U21 Premier League.
He needs trust and game time from his manager, so it may not be surprising to see Mourinho roll the dice on a player who has been tipped for the very top since he burst on the scene almost three years ago.
The most obvious option, perhaps the most likely one too, is Kurt Zouma in a defensive midfield role.
He offers the same strong and commanding base as Matic and is not afraid of getting his foot on the ball and being the start of an attack. It could be an interesting selection, considering how little he has played the position, but at the very least he would offer solid defensive structure.
It’s also worth noting the Frenchman has been ever-present for Chelsea in the League Cup this season, so would be deserving of a place in the team in whatever position Mourinho deems suitable.