Fourth spot on the Premier League table will be on the line when Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Premier League football resumes this weekend with Gameweek 27 of the 2019-20 season. First up in the latest round of fixtures is a blockbuster encounter, as Chelsea play hosts to Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off, with fourth spot up for grabs.
Chelsea have endured a topsy turvy season in what has been Frank Lampard’s managerial bow at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have been particularly poor at home this term, beating just 5 of the 13 teams that they have hosted in the Premier League. The latest blow came earlier this week, as they lost 2-0 to Manchester United, although they admittedly felt hard done by VAR.
Tottenham, like Chelsea, have gone through a mixed bag of a campaign, with the appointment of Jose Mourinho unable to galvanize the team like the Portuguese would have hoped for. However, after losing their first two Premier League games upon the turn of the year, Spurs are on a run of four games without defeat, including a 2-0 win over Manchester City before the winter break.
The reverse fixture, played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, ended in a 2-0 win for Chelsea, with ten-man Spurs having Son Heung-min sent off. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Frank Lampard has seen his squad’s injury woes improve significantly ahead of the visit of Tottenham. On Saturday, the Chelsea manager will be without just three first-team players, with several players set to make their returns in some capacity this weekend.
The only definite absentees for Chelsea are N’Golo Kante (thigh), Marco van Ginkel (knee) and Christian Pulisic (thigh). The good news, meanwhile, is that Tammy Abraham has trained this week after the Manchester United game and is in line to return to the starting lineup.
Andreas Christensen has also sufficiently recovered from a broken nose and is hoping to play with a facial mask. The big boost, though, ahead of the visit of Tottenham is the return of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the Englishman making his long-awaited comeback after putting his Achilles injury behind him.
Loftus-Cheek, however, is not ready to start yet, although he is set to be a part of the matchday squad. With Kante unavailable and Loftus-Cheek not expected to start, Lampard should shuffle his formation, reverting to the 4-2-3-1, with Mason Mount reprising the no. 10 role. Behind him, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic will partner up in the double pivot.
Kovacic will be tasked with facilitating smooth transitions, while Jorginho will look to absorb the threat created by the Tottenham attack. At the back, Christensen could yet be replaced, with Kurt Zouma providing company to Antonio Rudiger at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta will form the full-back pairing.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will hope to earn a recall in goal following two sub-par showings by Willy Caballero. On the opposite end of the pitch, Tammy Abraham should return, with Willian and Pedro expected to continue as the two wide men.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; James, Zouma, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Mount, Willian; Abraham
Jose Mourinho does not have a fresh injury concern hampering his preparations before he takes his side on the cross-London trip to take on Chelsea. On Saturday, the Tottenham Hotspur boss will be without just four first-team players.
The likes of Juan Foyth (groin), Moussa Sissoko (knee) and Harry Kane (hamstring) are still some way off returning to action, while Son Heung-min has seen his campaign being brought to a premature end due to a fractured arm.
The absence of Son and Kane has left Mourinho short-changed in terms of options in attack. Lucas Moura will lead the line for Tottenham against Chelsea, owing to the unavailability of the duo. Dele Alli will play off Moura, with Steven Bergwijn and Erik Lamela expected to flank Alli.
Harry Winks has been one of the better performers for Tottenham in recent weeks and will be a part of the midfield double pivot. Winks could have Tanguy Ndombele for company in the middle of the park following the Frenchman’s return from injury earlier this week against RB Leipzig.
At the back, Ben Davies could drop out of the side after an inexplicable error in the Champions League tie. In his place, Japhet Tanganga could return, with the youngster charged with using his pace to deal with the threat of Reece James. Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier will complete the back four, with Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris a certainty in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Tanganga; Winks, Ndombele; Lamela, Alli, Bergwijn; Moura
- Chelsea have won their last two Premier League games against Tottenham, last winning three in a row in March 2006, when they were managed by current Spurs boss Jose Mourinho. Tottenham, meanwhile, have won just one of their last 33 away games at Chelsea across all competitions (D11 L21), a 3-1 win in April 2018 in a Premier League fixture.
- Chelsea have lost seven home games in all competitions this season. They last lost more at Stamford Bridge in a single campaign back in 1985-86 (8).
- Tottenham have won only three of their 13 Premier League away fixtures this season. They won at least nine top-flight matches on the road in each of the last seven campaigns.
- Chelsea are winless in four Premier League games (D2 L2), last having a longer such run in the competition between October-December 2012 (7 games).
- Tottenham have won only two of their 11 Premier League games this season against the other teams who begin this gameweek in the top half of the table.
Player to Watch
After an underwhelming 2018-19 season, Alli has been much improved in the current campaign. However, the Englishman has suffered a significant dip in form in the last couple of months or so, having managed to score just one goal in his last 12 appearances across all competitions.
However, against Chelsea, he could perhaps, regain his best touch. The Blues are one of Alli’s favourite opponents, with the 23-year-old scoring 6 goals and providing 2 assists in 8 outings versus them. With Tottenham in need of some inspiration in front of goal, Alli needs to come to the party, if Spurs are to condemn Chelsea to a big defeat.
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
With the top four race heating up, neither Chelsea nor Tottenham can afford to drop off on their levels. However, with little room for error, a keenly contested affair could ensue, albeit one that is likely to be bereft of quality chances for much of the game. While Chelsea have a poor home record, Tottenham have struggled on the road this term.
The tension could build up as the game wears on and the end result will largely hinge on which side manages to hold their nerve. The return of Tammy Abraham will be crucial for Chelsea, thereby slightly tipping the scales in favour of the hosts. To that end, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Frank Lampard & co.