Exclusive: Spurs defender knows he’ll have to be flawless to stop Chelsea star Hazard at Wembley
Danny Rose admits Eden Hazard is one of his toughest opponents and the Tottenham left-back is aware he’ll have to put in a flawless defensive display to stop the Belgian winger if he gets the nod at Wembley.
Rose showed his attacking abilities when he scored against Jose Mourinho’s side in the last meeting between the sides – the famous 5-3 victory at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day.
However, the Blues initially went ahead in that game and Rose admits it was error against Hazard, as he was beaten too easily near the touch-line, which allowed Diego Costa to open the scoring.
Nonetheless, the 24-year-old is relishing the chance to face Hazard again, learn from his error in January and prove he can keep such a dangerous player quiet as Tottenham bid to win their first trophy for seven years.
Asked to name his toughest opponents this season, Rose said: “The other week against Liverpool, Jordan Ibe was a very difficult winger. Before that, Raheem Sterling is a handful and there’s Hazard as well. Those three have been the trickiest I’ve had to deal with this season and over the last few years since I’ve been playing regularly.
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“Hazard’s world-class, you’ve just got to try to be 10 out of 10 throughout the whole game. When we played Chelsea at the start of January I made a decision not to go tight to him and in the end it cost the team because we went 1-0 down in the game.
“The manager told me at half-time that it was the wrong decision and I’m sure I’ll be making plenty more mistakes in the future, but I’ve learned from that one and if I do start in the final I’ll try to put that right.
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“When you play you want to play against the best and you want to see how well you can do up against the best. The three players I’ve just mentioned, they’re probably the best young wingers throughout the league and in Europe, so it’s not something I shy away from, it’s something I look forward to. But they are the people you have to take most care with and try not to make any mistakes against them.”
Tottenham might have been underdogs if this cup final had taken place at the end of 2014, given that the Lilywhites had failed to beat the Blues in 10 meetings – including a 5-1 defeat when the pair last met at Wembley in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final.
Chelsea also triumphed 4-0 at Stamford Bridge last March and won 3-0 on home turf in December. However, that was followed by Spurs’ stunning 5-3 victory at White Hart Lane on January 1.
And, while Rose feels that blow will count for little when the sides go head to head this weekend, he believes it showed the potential of a relatively young Spurs squad.
“I don’t think it was that important [in terms of this final] but we played against a full-strength Chelsea team,” said Rose. “It’s been pointed out recently that we’ve got an average age of 24 throughout the whole squad, so it’s great to see that we’re a young team and we’re not naïve, and when we come up against the best teams we can fully match them.
“It’s going to be a brilliant occasion and we’ve deserved it. We started the season quite inconsistently but now we’ve gelled together, we’ve got to grips with the manager’s philosophies and his tactics and everything that’s happened over the last one or two months, we’ve thoroughly deserved it, and we’re all looking forward to a great day at Wembley.
“Looking at the future, we’ve got Christian Eriksen, who plays like he’s been playing for 10 or 15 years and he’s only just turned 23. He’s a joy to play with and a joy to watch.
“We’ve got Ryan [Mason], who has the manager’s full belief in him – he’s just signed a new contract. We’ve got Harry Kane, who’s doing awesomely well at the moment. Everything that’s been said about him, he deserves it.
“Then there’s Nabil [Bentaleb] as well, who came into the team towards the second half of last season. Hopefully we can tie him down to a new contract because in my opinion he deserves one.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs