A weekend is a long time in anything these days. Had I been writing this preview on say, Friday night, my choice would have been very clear. Chelsea were on the slide and Spurs, whilst out of two cup competitions, were bringing players back and looked resurgent, with four wins out of four.
Then came the weekend. Burnley outplayed Spurs for a deserved 2-1 win at Turf Moor. Chelsea, who had been cut apart by all and sundry away from Stamford Bridge, found their mettle and raised their game in the Carabao Cup final before Kepa Arrizabalga’s incredible refusal to get off the pitch. He failed to stop Aguero’s mistimed penalty, Jorginho skipped, David Luiz hit the post, and the rest is history.
Much depends on Maurizio Sarri here. The pragmatic and deep lying formation of Chelsea against Manchester City worked, pushing the Citizens to extra time whilst Chelsea also had their own significant chances. Before Kepa’s madness Chelsea had produced a fine defensive performance, led by N’Golo Kante, who brilliantly combined his defensive duties – he made eight tackles – with numerous breakaway attempts, many of them supplying Eden Hazard, who had another brilliant display.
Ederson proved to be a great improvement on Marcos Alonso but generally speaking, to a man the Chelsea players had their best game of the season only to go down in such cruel fashion.
Tottenham have to lick their wounds from their defeat at Turf Moor, which was fair and square. Burnley have been on a great run of form this year – they were unbeaten in eight at the time of writing (before their game with Newcastle yesterday) – and try as they might they couldn’t match their hosts, who had the brilliant Tom Heaton in goal as well to produce a string of saves.
Those games do set an interesting tactical conundrum for Sarri and Pochettino, especially with width vital for Spurs away from home. A deep lying Moruniho style formation could cause problems for sides such as Tottenham when visiting for the rest of the season, if Chelsea see fit to change their style of football to it.
However, it ought to be remembered that Chelsea put in a herculean effort to take City to penalties on Sunday, all with a day’s less recovery time since then as well, and getting ‘up’ for two big games in only four days will be even harder than the task Spurs have, which is to respond to a damaging defeat to keep title hopes alive.
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
20:00 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 4K UHD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
JAN 2019 CARABAO CUP Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
JAN 2019 CARABAO CUP Tottenham 1-0 Chelsea
NOV 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea
APR 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham
AUG 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea
APR 2017 FA CUP Chelsea 4-2 Tottenham
JAN 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea
NOV 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
MAY 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
NOV 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 0-0 Chelsea
MAR 2015 CAPITAL ONE CUP Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham
There isn’t likely to be very much between the two sides here, given that they will be nearly fully fit and on Chelsea turf, but Spurs are ten points clear and perhaps too big at 11/5 even allowing for a strong Chelsea home record.
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