Ray Wilkins says Swansea are favourites, but Chelsea have quality to reach Capital One Cup Final
Ray Wilkins says Chelsea's players will be "distraught" if they fail to reach the Capital One Cup Final.
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 22/01/13 2:20pm
England's second domestic cup competition may not have been at the top of the agenda for the European champions at the start of the season, but after crashing out of the group stage of the Champions League and losing in the final of the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup they would have been looking to next month's Wembley final as a big chance of picking up some silverware.
However, a 2-0 defeat at home to Swansea in the first leg of the semi-final has put Chelsea - currently 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United - at risk of crashing out.
Former Chelsea assistant boss Wilkins believes his old team are now underdogs ahead of Wednesday night's return leg, but says they will be inspired by the odds-defying performances they produced against Napoli, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to win the Champions League last year.
"My argument is that if Swansea can score two at Stamford Bridge then I'll be blowed if Chelsea can't score two at the Liberty Stadium," he told skysports.com.
"I think the tie is very much open with the quality that Chelsea have, but you'd have to say that the advantage is with Swansea. Any Premier League side that takes a two-goal lead back to their own turf has to be favourite.
"Saying that, we wrote Chelsea off several times in the Champions League last year and they bounced back and kicked everybody on the backside.
"This is one of those games where I'm sure they'd love to do exactly the same. Trophy-winning is in their blood - and I think it's in Rafa's blood as well. If you look at his record over the years, he's a trophy-hunter and he has picked up a number of them wherever he's been.
"This trophy is there to be won. A lot more teams have given the Capital One Cup far more respect this year and have played better players throughout.
"They would be a little bit distraught, one would think, if they didn't find themselves in that final at Wembley."
Defeat on Wednesday night would see more criticism aimed towards interim boss Benitez, who has struggled to strike a rapport with the Chelsea fans since succeeding Roberto Di Matteo in November.
The Spaniard appeared to mock the club for handing out flags to their supporters when he was Liverpool manager and Wilkins says the Stamford Bridge fans have not forgotten those comments.
And he says it will be tough for Benitez to succeed at Chelsea, especially if they go out of another cup competition.
Wilkins said: "It was always going to be a difficult scenario for Rafa because he didn't ask for the job, he was given the job and he's doing the best job he possibly can with his ability.
"As far as that's concerned I don't put any blame on him, but you have rivalries in football and he's very much associated with what he said before Liverpool-Chelsea games back in the days of the European Cup ties.
"He said something that the Chelsea supporters thought was out of place and it didn't go down too well with them. These things do happen in football.
"I think it will be very difficult for him now. They are already a number of points behind Manchester United and it's vitally important that a Champions League place is secured.
"Their season hasn't been great. They lost the World Club Championship, they haven't qualified for the latter stages of the Champions League and I would say their season, up until now, hasn't gone according to plan.
"To have another kick in the teeth and be drifting out of the Capital One Cup as well, would be not very pleasant indeed."
Wilkins believes Swansea are strong favourites to reach Wembley, but says they may feel the pressure if they concede an early goal at the Liberty Stadium.
However, he has enjoyed watching the Welsh side under new manager Michael Laudrup and says they would be worthy finalists.
Wilkins said: "They've continued where Brendan Rodgers left off, but I think the main difference now is that they get the ball forward a bit earlier under Michael Laudrup. That gives the likes of Michu a little bit more time to work on the ball in good areas.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed watching their football, which has been progressive. Even when Chelsea put them under pressure in the first leg they managed to take the ball off them for periods and keep the ball and play good football.
"They are a good footballing side. They will score goals, they will concede goals as well - that's pretty evident - but they look a side that wants to score as much as they possibly can. That can only be good for the game.
"But they've not been in this situation before. It can be a pleasant pressure that comes upon you when you're 90 minutes away from Wembley - but it can also be difficult.
"The interesting factor is if Chelsea score first. If that happens then you could see a very jittery Swansea and that might be a little bit too much for them. If Chelsea score early then you wouldn't bet against them going on and winning the tie.
"But at this stage, like 99.9% of the people in the country, I would have to say that Swansea will go through - but never write off Chelsea."