Chelsea vs Tottenham Preview

Eden Hazard and Christian Eriksen

The Premier League returns after the International Break with a cracking London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The rivalry between the two teams has been intense for a long time but after ‘The battle of the Bridge” in 2016, nothing will ever be the same. That match, Chelsea had nothing to play for while Spurs needed to win to keep their title hopes alive. Mauricio Pochettino’s side were 2-0 up at half-time, but the Blues fought back to earn a 2-2 draw, which handed Leicester the title. Mark Clattenburg, who officiated the game, gave out 12 yellow cards – nine of them going to Tottenham players – despite being rather lenient that night.

With mutual hatred between the teams and the fans, plus a top four spot to play for, this promises to be an absolute cracker.

English Premier League
Chelsea v Tottenham 
Sunday 1 April 
Stamford Bridge 
17:00

To Win
Chelsea 5/4
Draw 9/4
Tottenham 23/10

Chelsea

Chelsea currently sit five points behind Spurs, and they know that defeat will leave them with the almost impossible task of gaining eight points in seven remaining games in the race for the top four. The Blues are favourites due to their tremendous record against Spurs at the Bridge, going unbeaten in 29 games, winning 20 times – including four wins in their last five. 

Antonio Conte’s men claimed a 2-1 win over Spurs in their first game at Wembley this season – the only Premier League team to have beaten Pochettino’s side at the national stadium. The Blues have lost just once in their last 11 home games, winning nine times, keeping seven clean sheets. Another thing which will boost Chelsea’s chances of victory is the absence of Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who has 39 goals this season. 

Conte has opted to play Eden Hazard as a false nine with Willian and Pedro providing the other attacking threat. But with the Blues desperately seeking a win, I think we’ll see record signing Alvaro Morata return to the starting line-up at the expense of Pedro. 

Morata was an instant hit since joining from Real Madrid, but he has struggled for form since December. But the Spaniard was on the scoresheet in Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester before the international break and he’ll be hoping that goal signals a timely return to form.

It’s fair to say Willian has been the leader of this Chelsea team in recent weeks. The Brazilian has been in majestic form over the last seven matches, netting five times and contributing an assist. 

Conte will be sweating on the fitness of talented centre-back Andreas Christensen. The youngster was sent back to Chelsea by the Danish national team following an injury scare ahead of their victory over Panama last Thursday. Christensen should be okay for Sunday’s clash with Spurs, but should he not be ready then David Luiz is expected to be available for selection.



Tottenham

Tottenham come into this clash in good form, going unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games with nine wins, including four on the spin. Pochettino’s side did go through a difficult spell away from home during October to December where they went five games without a win, losing four times. But Spurs improved since then and are now unbeaten in their last six travels, winning four times.

Tottenham will need to avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge if they are to strengthen their hopes of a top-four finish. Spurs don’t have a good record against the Blues, having won just two of their last 18 meetings and you have to go all the way back to February 1990 since the last time Tottenham beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. A late Gary Lineker header secured a 2-1 away win for Spurs. To make matters worse, Pochettino’s side are without their star striker, Kane.

With fears that Kane could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Son Heung-min has hit scintillating form just at the right time for Spurs. The South Korean international has 18 goals in all competitions this season, including seven in his last five games. Pochettino will be relying on him to carry on his exceptional goal-scoring form.

Christian Eriksen is another key player for Pochettino’s side and he’ll be even more important during Kane's absence. The Dane has 11 goals and 10 assists across all competitions so far this season. Eriksen has noticeably taken on greater levels of responsibility during the last two matches, dropping deeper into midfield from where he can really influence the game. 

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 3-4-3
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard.

Tottenham: 4-2-3-1
Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Lucas; Son.

Prediction: Chelsea Win (5/4)

Chelsea know that they have to win this game or it will be extremely difficult to finish in the top four. A draw isn’t good enough for Conte’s men; they need to pick up maximum points. Spurs have a terrible record at the Bridge and with Kane missing; it’s going to be very tough for Pochettino’s side. I’m backing the Premier League champions to record a vital victory.

Written by Chadley N