Our football scribe previews the EPL London derby contested between Chelsea and Tottenham.
League-leaders Chelsea will host Tottenham on Saturday evening in what promises to be a feisty encounter at Stamford Bridge. Meetings between the two clubs deliver controversy and contention by the bucket-load and an atmosphere of barely contained hostility in the stands. It is no secret that this mutual hatred runs deep throughout both players and supporters.
The last time these sides met: Spurs needed three points to stay in the title race, while Chelsea were out of sorts and with nothing to play for. Goals from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son gave Spurs a 2-0 lead at half-time, but Chelsea fought back to draw level through strikes from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard, which ended Tottenham’s title hopes as Leicester were crowned champions. Chelsea come into the clash as the Premier League’s form team, while Spurs remain the only undefeated team in the league.
English Premier League | Saturday 26 November | Stamford Bridge | 19:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Chelsea 7/10 | Draw 28/10 | Tottenham 37/10
Chelsea are top of the table, winning nine of their 12 games played – no team has won more. Antonio Conte’s side are riding a six-game winning streak, scoring 17 goals while remarkably conceding none. Twelve of those goals have come in their last three home games in emphatic wins over Leicester City, Manchester United and Everton.
The Blues come into this fixture off a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Middlesbrough thanks to a strike from Diego Costa. Boro, who had drawn with Arsenal and Manchester City, were well-organised, well-disciplined and worked incredibly hard as a unit. It was the sort of contest Chelsea would probably have lost – or at least drawn – last season. But Conte’s side proved too strong and had it not been for some top saves from goalkeeper Victor Valdes, they would have won the game a bit more comfortably.
Chelsea head into their London derby with Tottenham in good shape, while they boast an excellent home record against their rivals – 26 years, 29 games, undefeated. They’ve won three of their last four home meetings against Mauricio Pochettino’s side – keeping three clean sheets. The Blues will be hoping to extend their winning streak on Saturday while becoming the first team to beat Spurs this season.
Conte has a healthy squad with no injury concerns and is expected to name an unchanged side for the sixth time in a row. While their starting XI is extremely strong, their bench is frightening: John Terry, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Willian.
Costa and Hazard have been Chelsea’s standout performers this season – the latter awarded last month’s Player of the Month. Hazard has seven goals and an assist from 12 games this season, while Costa is the league’s top scorer with 10 goals and he’s got three assists. They will be Tottenham’s greatest threat this weekend, although Victor Moses and Pedro have also been very dangerous.
Tottenham are the Premier League’s only unbeaten team, however, too many draws has seen them drop to 5th place. Nevertheless, if they manage to pick up three points against Chelsea, they’ll only be a point behind Conte’s side. Spurs will be looking to do just that on Saturday, but their record at Stamford Bridge doesn’t bode well.
Spurs suffer worse from travel sickness in SW6 than anywhere else. They last won at Stamford Bridge in 1990 when they had the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker – the latter scoring in a 2-1 win. They just do not seem to enjoy travelling to Chelsea and their opponents’ impressive form makes the task even tougher. Pochettino will be desperate to end that horrid record, but they’ll need their best performance to date.
Spurs have won just once in their last eight matches across all competitions, at the time of writing. To make matters worse, they travel to France to take on Group E leaders Monaco in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. Pochettino’s side are 3rd in the group and the French giants – unbeaten in the competition – have already beaten them in the first-leg.
After four straight league draws, Tottenham snatched a dramatic late victory against West Ham, winning 3-2 at White Hart Lane thanks to a late brace from Harry Kane. Pochettino was handed a major blow after Danny Rose picked up his fifth booking of the season. The defender will have to serve a one-game suspension and will miss this clash. Rose's absence will be a big blow as Spurs are also without Ben Davies, who is out injured. Pochettino is also sweating on the fitness of Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela ahead of the derby.
With three goals in four games against Chelsea, Kane will look to end the Blues’ run of clean sheets. He has an excellent goal-scoring record in London derbies and has three goals in his last two league games. Conte’s back three will face their biggest test yet.
Verdict: Chelsea (7/10)
I’m expecting a tight affair, but Chelsea are tipped to make home advantage count and end Spurs’ unbeaten run in the league.
Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets