League leaders Chelsea welcome fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur who are looking to get back to winning ways after being knocked out of the Champions League by Monaco.
The memories of that draw in May where Eden Hazard equalised with a stunning goal to give Leicester the title will still be fresh in the minds of Spurs fans and players, and revenge will be on the agenda when they travel to Stamford Bridge tonight. Pochettino’s men currently sit at 5th place in the Premier League, a point behind Arsenal and the Champions League places. Injuries to key players will severely affect their chances against a Blues side who are currently on fire.
Antonio Conte has seemed to have fixed every single problem Chelsea had, with the players at his disposal. The Blues have steamrolled past teams in the Premier League, and since switching to that 3-4-3 formation they haven’t conceded a single goal in 6 Premier League games. They are a point clear at the top of the table and will look to keep it that way at the end of 90 minutes. With a full strength squad which are probably fitter and fresher having rested well during midweek, Conte will have no excuse to not continue this winning streak and losing to their arch rivals for the first time in 26 years on home soil would be absolutely inexcusable.
Conte will be without the services of John Terry and John Obi Mikel. Though Kurt Zouma and Marco Van Ginkel are both back from their knee injuries and last played the U23 match against Southampton, it is unlikely they’ll be picked in the squad just yet. However, Chelsea aren’t missing out on any key starting players and have a full strength starting XI at their disposal and it’s almost impossible to see Conte changing anything going into this tie.
Given that Spurs are missing the likes of Danny Rose, Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld in defence, Hazard, Costa and Pedro will likely have it easier tonight. Matic and Kante in the center of the park will come up against Dembele, Delle Alli and Victor Wanyama and that is a key battle that will be fought to regain or retain possession in the middle of the park.
With Alonso and Moses as wingbacks, Chelsea will have an added width to their attack and have 3 center backs will also allow the Blues to have more personnel when they go on the defensive. With David Luiz, Chelsea have a younger, faster player who is perhaps better capable of handling the threat of Harry Kane and Victor Janssen than John Terry. His ball playing ability is far greater than that of the Englishman, which allows the Blues to start moves from the back. Cahill and Marcos Alonso on the left and Victor Moses and Azpilicueta together on the right will be better able to nullify the threat of Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son respectively, reducing the crosses and service to Harry Kane in the middle.
Predicted Starting XI (3-4-3): Courtois; Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Kante, Matic, Moses; Hazard, Costa, Pedro
Mauricio Pochettino will have to make do without the services of first team regulars in the form of Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela, and he will also be without youngster Ben Davies. The Argentine does have options, however. It is likely Jan Vertonghen will move to left back and Austrian Kevin Wimmer will take his place in the center of defence. Eric Dier, who spends most of his time on the pitch for Spurs playing as a defensive midfielder, will likely be starting as center back tonight, a position he is quite familiar with.
We could see Spurs start off in a 4-2-3-1 which can also be a 4-1-4-1 when Dembele choses to be more involved in attack. Wanyama has been fantastic for Spurs this season in the defensive midfield role and that has in-turn allowed Delle Alli and Eriksen more freedom in attack. With Erik Lamela missing, Heung-Min Son will take his place at right wing. The Korean has suffered a slight dip in form in recent weeks, something that Pochettino hopes he will be able to shake off when he faces Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill.
Switching to a 4-1-4-1 will allow the Spurs to attack and also defend better on the flanks, something they will likely do a lot of tonight given Chelsea’s style of play. However, another option for Pochettino is deploying his side in a 4-3-3 formation to perhaps better counter Chelsea’s expected onslaught and compete with the likes of Kante and Matic in midfield.
Predicted Starting XI: (4-1-4-1): Lloris; Vertonghen, Wimmer, Dier, Walker; Wanyama; Eriksen, Dembele, Alli, Son; Kane
- Tottenham Hotspur last won at Stamford Bridge 26 years ago, in February 1990.
- Chelsea are yet to concede a goal in 590 minutes of Premier League football.
- Chelsea’s last loss came in a London derby, against West Ham United in the EFL Cup.
- Tottenham Hotspur are unbeaten in the Premier League this campaign.
- Tottenham Hotspur have won 6 and drawn 6 games in the Premier League this season.
- Chelsea have scored 17 goals since the start of the unbeaten run in October and are yet to concede a Premier League goal.
- When Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur faced each other in May, 9 players in the Spurs team were booked, which is a record.
Players To Watch
Chelsea: Eden Hazard & Diego Costa
The duo have been in brilliant form this season. Between them, they have scored 17 goals in the Premier League and have helped Chelsea storm to the top of the English top flight. Their form will be pivotal to Chelsea’s hopes of maintaining their unbeaten streak and more importantly, their title chances. The duo are seemingly unstoppable in this form and Chelsea and their fans will be buoyed by the fact that Spurs are missing key personnel in defence, which will likely make Costa and the rest of their jobs much easier.
Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane
The 23-year-old has been in fine form since returning from injury and in 9 appearances this season, he’s managed to get 6 goals in all competitions this season, including a brace in last week’s London derby against West Ham United. The impact of his absence was slightly reduced by the form of Heung-Min Son, but it’s not quite the same without the prolific Englishman. He’s scored 3 goals and registered 2 assists in 4 games against Chelsea in the Premier League. Pochettino and the fans will look to his star striker once again and hope that he can lead them to victory at Stamford Bridge for the first time in 26 years.
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Chelsea 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Antonio Conte’s men can’t seem to put a foot wrong after switching to their new 3-4-3 formation and even though both sides are without a few players, Pochettino won’t have a number of first choice players to pick from which should make it harder for them than it already was. These derbies are usually heated affairs and tempers will flare as Tottenham look to extract revenge for that draw that cost them the title last season. But Chelsea have the upper hand going into this tie because of their sheer quality, form, confidence and momentum. Spurs haven’t been in good form despite being unbeaten in the League this season. However, they face their biggest test of the season against Chelsea and it is unlikely that they will come out of this victorious, unless the Blues capitulate in the same manner as they did against Arsenal.