Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
May 8, 2013 at 7.45pm (UK)
Can this get any closer? Arguably the biggest game in the league so far this season. Chelsea and Tottenham lock horns in a desperate battle to pick up all three points do decide their fate while Arsenal hold their breath anticipating a possible stalemate as that could benefit them in a huge way.
However, the hosts are in the driving seat due to their superior goal difference, if the Blues managed to pick up all three points today, they can be rest assured to claim any one of the two available Champions league places.
On the other hand, a defeat for Spurs could be a real disaster for them and will have to wait for any slip-up from Arsenal in their final two fixtures against Wigan and Newcastle. But if they were to win this one against the Blues, they would move up to fourth.
History suggests, Chelsea are firm favorites for this one as it has been almost 23 years since Spurs managed to defeat them at Stamford Bridge. But if histories are set to be re-written, then this could be the perfect stage for Tottenham to do it and a certain Gareth Bale will be the key to it.
Team news and injury updates:
John Obi Mikel who missed Sunday’s trio to Old Trafford is still a doubt with a problem in his hip while while Ryan Bertrand is out with a Knee injury. Long term absentee Oriol Romeu is back in contention after returning to full training following knee problem, but is not expected in the line-up today.
The real big news for Chelsea is the return of Eden Hazard from his hamstring woes which kept him out of the game last weekend. Knowing Rafa, it is hard to make a prediction as to who would start but I would personally play Hazard-Mata-Ramires in the band of 3 and David Luiz-Lampard in the pivot just behind them. Make them force the game early on, and hit them on the break instead of leaving gaps for Gareth Bale to exploit. With pressure clearly on Spurs, the Blues can sit back and wait on for the misplaced passes to pounce upon.
Tottenham sweet over Aaron Lennon’s hamstring problems as the winger was subbed last week during their win over Southampton, but reports say he could be available. Midfielder Mousa Dembele could also start the game if he passes the late fitness test today. However a fit again Bale is what Tottenham want, and they have!
Had Chelsea lost to United in the FA Cup Quarter Final and played this match on its original date, he wouldn’t have been there and the scenario then would have been a much different one.
Possible starting lineups:
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Ba
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Holtby, Huddlestone, Dempsey; Bale; Defoe
- Tottenham Hotspur have never won a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in 20 visits. No side is currently on a longer run without victory at an opponent’s ground than Spurs against Chelsea.
- The Blues have won each of their last six home games in the Premier League.
- On only one occasion this season have Tottenham failed to score away from home in the league.
- Juan Mata has scored three times in his last two appearances against Tottenham in all competitions.
- When Andre Villas-Boas was manager of Chelsea, he masterminded eight victories in 13 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge (62%).
- No player has scored more goals away from home this season in the Premier League than Gareth Bale (13).
- Tottenham managed only four shots last weekend, fewer than any other team playing on Saturday or Sunday.
- A win in this game would virtually seal a top four spot for Chelsea (they’d be six points clear with a much superior goal difference and two games to go
Prediction: 2-1 win for the home side.