Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they take on London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this weekend.

London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will square off against each other at Stamford Bridge in this weekend’s marquee Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening.

From being at the top of the table at the start of December, Chelsea have quickly dropped out of the title picture as they find themselves in third place, 12 points shy of leaders Manchester City who also have a game in hand. The Blues are without a win in their previous four league matches, most recently being held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion.

Thomas Tuchel has been blaming the fixture pile-up as a reason for the team’s recent decline in form. But those claims do not hold water considering the bench strength and the quality of options he has at his disposal. The German tactician must find a way to turn things around quickly, or Chelsea could end up getting dragged into the battle for the fourth spot with teams below them closing down the gap.

Tottenham, on the other hand, have enjoyed a positive turnaround since Antonio Conte took over the reins. The Lilywhites are in fifth place currently, just a point behind West Ham United in fourth and have played fewer games than all their top-four rivals, which puts them in an advantageous position in the race for the Champions League spots.

Tottenham have not lost any of their last nine Premier League encounters, with their latest match ending in a stunning comeback 3-2 win over Leicester City. However, Spurs did lose twice to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-finals earlier this month and were beaten by the Blues in the reverse fixture in the league as well – a trend they will be aiming to buck on Sunday.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Chelsea continue to be without the services of full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell. Fellow defender Trevoh Chalobah has resumed training but will not be rushed back to action while Andreas Christensen remains unavailable as he is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. Edouard Mendy is away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

With Chelsea looking laboured in attack, Thomas Tuchel has recently switched his team’s shape to a 4-2-2-2, although it is yet to achieve the desired result. But the German is expected to stick with the system against Tottenham.

Kepa Arrizabalaga will continue to deputise in goal for the absent Mendy, while Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger will pair up the heart of the backline. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso should take up the full-back slots and will need to watch out for the marauding runs from their Tottenham counterparts.

N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will form the double-pivot in the middle of the park and look to provide cover to the backline. Meanwhile, the majority of the chance-creating responsibilities ought to fall on the shoulders of the two attacking midfielders, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech.

Tuchel has not been pleased with the contributions of star striker Romelu Lukaku thus far but is likely to retain him in the starting XI. Callum Hudson-Odoi, however, could make way for Kai Havertz as the Belgian’s partner up top for the home team.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho; Ziyech, Mount; Havertz, Lukaku

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham will have to make do without star forward Son Heung-min and summer signing Cristian Romero, both of whom could return after the international break. There is some good news for Antonio Conte as Eric Dier is back available after missing three weeks of action. Emerson Royal is carrying a knock and will be assessed closer to the game.

Conte will stick with his tried and tested 3-5-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who will be aiming to celebrate the news of his contract extension with a clean sheet. The fit-again Dier should walk back into the starting XI, forming the three-man backline alongside Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies.

Emerson should hold on to his place in the side, provided he proves his fitness. Matt Doherty could get the nod at right wing-back if the Brazilian misses out, while Sergio Reguilon will occupy the opposite flank. Both wing-backs will be the primary source of providing width for the Lilywhites and will need to supply crosses for the forwards to attack.

The onus of holding down the fort in the middle of the park will fall on the shoulders of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks, with the latter also being key to help launch attacks with his range of passing. Oliver Skipp should get the nod over Giovani Lo Celso in the third slot in midfield to provide more solidity in the area.

Up top, there is no looking past the duo of Harry Kane and Lucas Moura for Tottenham. Steven Bergwijn, who was the hero in the comeback win over Leicester City, will again be utilised as an impact substitute.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lloris; Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Skipp, Winks, Hojbjerg, Reguilon; Moura, Kane

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have won five of their last six Premier League games against Tottenham Hotspur (D1), keeping five clean sheets in the process.
  • Tottenham have won just one of their previous 31 away league games against Chelsea (D10 L20).
  • Chelsea have drawn each of their last three Premier League home games. The Blues have not gone four without winning at Stamford Bridge in the competition since a run of five matches under Guus Hiddink in 2016.
  • Tottenham striker Harry Kane has scored 39 goals in 65 Premier League London derby matches, second only to Thierry Henry (43) in the history of the competition.
  • Chelsea have dropped 13 points from a winning position this season, the most by a team in the top half of the table before the weekend.

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

As the most expensive signing in the club’s history, Romelu Lukaku was expected to lead Chelsea to success this season after spearheading Inter Milan to a Serie A title triumph last term. However, things have not panned out as planned, as the Belgian international has managed a paltry return of just five goals in 15 Premier League outings, leading to Thomas Tuchel questioning his contributions.

The 28-year-old will need to start pulling his weight, but that will be easier said than done against Tottenham. Lukaku has scored just one goal in 16 appearances against Spurs in all competitions. He will be itching to add to that tally and help Chelsea get out of their rut as early as possible.

Prediction

Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea find themselves in a difficult position and need to turn things around. However, things will not be straightforward against a Tottenham side who have not lost in the league since November. But the fact that the Blues have got the better of their London rivals twice in the last couple of weeks should feed their confidence, which should ultimately help them seal a narrow victory.

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