A wounded Chelsea side will welcome London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, as they look to close the gap to the fourth place.
Having suffered defeats at the weekend, both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will be aiming to return to winning ways, when they lock horns at Stamford Bridge in matchweek 28 of the 2018-19 Premier League.
Chelsea come into the game after being beaten on penalties by Manchester City in the final of the Carabao Cup at the Wembley on Sunday night. The Blues put in a much-improved, disciplined display in comparison to their 6-0 mauling at the hands of the Citizens a fortnight ago and would want to build on that against their London rivals.
Maurizio Sarri’s side are currently stationed in the sixth position on the Premier League table, three points off of Arsenal, who sit fourth. With a game in hand, Chelsea will be aiming to take full advantage and not drop any points as the race for the top four heats up.
Tottenham, on the other hand, were handed a 2-1 defeat by Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday, which left them six points below league leaders Liverpool. While the North London outfit will have been buoyed by the return of star striker Harry Kane, who scored against the Clarets, they will be disappointed in the manner of the defeat and will want to bounce back strongly.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have beaten Chelsea twice in three games this season – once in the league and once in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final. But, Spurs were defeated in the second leg, which led to their elimination. Apart from producing a strong reaction to Burnley’s defeat, revenge will also be on Spurs’ mind when they take the field at Stamford Bridge.
Team News & Tactics
After Kepa Arrizabalaga’s antics in Sunday’s final, it is very much likely that Maurizio Sarri will bench him for Wednesday’s game as a form of punishment. Elsewhere Davide Zappacosta (illness) and Gary Cahill (back) remain doubts, while Marco van Ginkel and Danny Drinkwater (Achilles) will miss out.
Should Sarri decide to punish Kepa for his actions, Willy Caballero will come into the starting XI between the sticks for Chelsea. There are unlikely to be any tweaks in defence, however, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Emerson Palmieri all expected to hold on to their spots in the lineup.
N’Golo Kante has put in two massive displays in back to back games for Chelsea, but will once again be asked to start against a ‘Big Six’ opponent on Wednesday. Jorginho is also likely to hold on to his spot at the base of the three-man midfield for the Blues. Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be in line for a rare start ahead of Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley in the third midfield slot.
Up ahead in attack, Eden Hazard will likely move to his natural position on the left flank, making way for Gonzalo Higuain to return to the starting lineup, after being left out on the bench against City. The right wing is likely to be occupied by Pedro, ahead of Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard
Tottenham will once again be without the services of midfielders Eric Dier (tonsilitis) and Dele Alli (hamstring), who is making good progress in his rehabilitation. There are no other injury or suspension concerns for Pochettino going into the midweek London derby.
Spurs are likely to stick with the three-man backline against Chelsea in order to effectively deal with the in-field runs of the likes of Pedro and Hazard from the flanks. However, there will be one personnel change, with Juan Foyth set to drop out of the team, making way for Davinson Sanchez. Belgian duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are guaranteed starters.
Kieran Trippier did not start against his former club at the weekend but could come into the team at the expense of Serge Aurier, while Ben Davies is also likely to start on Wednesday, replacing Danny Rose as the left-sided wing-back.
In Dier’s absence, Harry Winks will continue at the base of the midfield for Spurs, with Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen on either side of him. The latter will be key in unlocking the Chelsea defence that managed to shut out the Manchester City attack for 120 minutes on Sunday. Harry Kane and in-form man Son Heung-min will spearhead the attack.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Winks, Eriksen, Davies; Kane, Son
1. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.00
2. Chelsea Draw No Bet @ 1.57
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.50
- Chelsea have only lost one of their last 32 home games against Tottenham in all competitions (W20 D11). However, that defeat did come in this exact fixture last season (1-3).
- Tottenham have won three of their last four Premier League games against Chelsea (L1), as many as they had in their previous 20 against them (W3 D9 L8).
- Chelsea haven’t lost both league games against Tottenham in a single campaign since 1970-71.
- Only Arsenal (16 in 8 games) have won more points in Premier League London derbies this season than Tottenham (15 in 6 games).
- Mauricio Pochettino has won four Premier League games against Chelsea as Tottenham manager – more than every other Spurs boss combined.
Player to Watch
The Argentine forward was signed in January from Juventus in hope that he would address Chelsea’s goal-scoring woes, but he is yet to make a serious impact in England. While his performance against Huddersfield Town, when he grabbed a double, was exceptional, Higuain hasn’t been able to churn out similar displays since then.
However, his past record against Spurs could be a reason for Chelsea to go into the midweek game with high expectations. Higuain was directly involved in all four Juventus goals in their 4-3 aggregate victory against Spurs in last season’s Champions League clash, scoring three and setting up the other.
The Blues will be hoping that he can reproduce a similar performance on Wednesday night to fire his team to a win.
Chelsea 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Both teams come into the game on the back of disappointing defeats and will be gunning for three points and a return to winning ways. Chelsea haven’t been in the best of form recently, but their performance against Manchester City will have given them some confidence. At the same time, the exertion for over 120 minutes will have taken a toll on Sarri’s players.
Tottenham were caught out by a solid Burnley side at the weekend, and have now lost three away matches in a row across all competitions. The goal-scoring return of Harry Kane will, however, be a huge boost for Pochettino’s side as they aim to reduce the gap at the top.
It is likely to be a closely fought encounter at the Bridge. But, Chelsea’s fatigue after the City clash could come into play, giving Spurs a minor advantage. As a result, we at The Hard Tackle are expecting the North London outfit to come out on top in another derby.