Tottenham and Chelsea face off in the London derby today and the duo will want to continue the good form of late December.
The reverse fixture saw the current league leaders Chelsea beating their rivals comfortably at home by virtue of goals from Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Eden Hazard. However, things will not be that straightforward for the blues this time as they face a side that have been brilliant off late. The added fact of playing at White Hart Lane will help Spurs as they have a decent record against Chelsea at their own stadium.
Spurs have lost just once in the last five Premier League games against Chelsea at White Hart Lane. However, three of them have been draws as their last victory came way back in the 2009-10 season when they won 2-1. Both the teams are coming from a good Christmas schedule as they have picked up seven points from a possible nine. After being held by Southampton, Chelsea will want to win the Derby especially when title rivals Manchester City have a relatively easier fixture against Sunderland at home and could go above Chelsea temporarily.
Tactics and probable line-ups
Manager Mauricio Pochettino went with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation against Manchester United in the last game, but the absence of Nabil Bentaleb was a key factor which resulted in Manchester United dominating the game in the first half. The Algerian has featured alongside Ryan Mason in most of the games, hence the chemistry between Mason and Benjamin Stambouli, who played against United, did not work well for the opening half.
Bentaleb will most likely return for the Derby game as could Erik Lamela and Aaron Lennon who were on the bench in the last game. In defence, Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen will form the center back pairing as Younes Kaboul is still out with a hip injury. Chelsea possess a lot of pace on the wings and as a result, we could see Danny Rose and Kyle Walker occupying the full-back areas.
In attack, the duo of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen have been excellent so far and could cause some problems with their pace. They have scored a total of 12 goals for Tottenham this season. Pochettino’s side lacked the finishing touch when the two sides played last time as Spurs were lively in the opening few minutes but capitulated once Chelsea scored against the run of play. They will have to be more vigilant of Chelsea’s counterattacking style of play if they are to get something from the game today.
Predicted Starting XI: Lloris; Walker, Fazio, Verthongen, Rose; Bentaleb, Mason, Lamela, Eriksen, Lennon; Kane
After dispatching Stoke City and West Ham United, the blues were held by Southampton on Sunday. However, Chelsea got away with it as City drew their home game against Burnley.
Like his counterpart Pochettinho, Mourinho too plays a 4-2-3-1 system with more emphasis on defending. With Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas as the central midfielders, Chelsea have the right balance in midfield. Matic plays a defensive role while Fabregas’ duty is that of a deep-lying playmaker.
Mourinho went with Matic and Mikel in front of the defense against Southampton after an illness to Oscar. The Brazilian could return into the line up to play behind Diego Costa if he recovers from the illness, else we could well see Mikel being deployed again with Fabregas playing a more attacking role.
Eden Hazard and Willian have played a lot of games this season, but they could feature considering the calibre of their opponents. Willian was used as a substitute against Southampton but could start ahead of Andre Schurrle today.
Chelsea’s weakness, and the only one that one can think of, was the lack of pace at the back which was made use of by Southampton as Sadio Mané’s incredible burst of speed couldn’t be handled by John Terry and Gary Cahill. Although Spurs don’t have a Mane in attack, they have pace on the wings as Lennon and Lamela are very much capable of troubling any defence. As a result, Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic will have to think twice before going forward.
Predicted Starting XI: Courtois; Ivanović, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matić; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa.
- Chelsea have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League away matches. They have won eight and drawn the other four.
- Tottenham had 61% possession against Chelsea in the last game, but still ended up losing the game 3-0.
- Tottenham’s last win over Chelsea came almost four years ago under then manager Harry Redknapp.
- There has been just one goalless draw between the two sides in the last 24 games.
Both Tottenham and Chelsea ended 2014 with stalemates and it’s likely that they’ll begin 2015 in the same fashion. Tottenham’s home support usually turns up for such games and the men in white could give Chelsea a few moments of scare like their last game where they did everything but score.
Predicted Full-time score: Tottenham 2-2 Chelsea