This weekend sees another huge clash in the Premier League as Tottenham travel to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. These are two clubs that will be hoping to challenge for the title, but the home side are in better form and will be confident of extending their lead over their London rivals. A defeat will increase the anger in the Tottenham fan-base and it is arguably a much bigger match for them than it is for Chelsea. That said, Chelsea still need to convince some people that they are title contenders and will need to do so in this match and next weekend when they travel to Manchester City.
Chelsea have been on an exceptional run of form since Antonio Conte opted to change to a 3-4-3 formation, winning their last six matches without conceding a goal. Over this period, they have managed to score 17 goals themselves with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard in great form. It was always going to be his biggest challenge to get those two back to their best, but he has managed to do so in some style and Chelsea are sitting top of the league as a result. The next two weekends will tell us a lot about this Chelsea side and whether they can continue to compete at the top until the end of the season.
Spurs are reeling after being knocked out of the Champions League and will be there for the taking this weekend. Their performances have been disappointing since they managed to inflict the first defeat on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Although they managed to put an end to a run of four successive draws last weekend, it was partly due to West Ham self-destructing at a crucial time in the match. They are currently four points off the top and need to avoid defeat to ensure they remain in touch with the leading pack.
This fixture last season led to Leicester winning the title as Chelsea prevented Tottenham from staying in the race for the title. The home side came back from two goals down thanks to Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard, which cancelled out strikes from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. It was a hotly contested match that featured 12 yellow cards. The other fixture between the two also ended level in a goalless draw at White Hart Lane.
- Chelsea haven’t conceded a league goal since the end of September.
- Tottenham remain the only unbeaten team in the top four divisions in England.
The attacker has been excellent since the season started and is emerging as an early contender to win the PFA Player of the Year award for the second time as a Chelsea player. There were rumours linking him with a move away over the summer, with PSG heavily linked, but he decided to stay at Stamford Bridge and that is now looking like a smart decision. He has scored seven goals already this season, in addition to contributing one assist. The change in formation has freed the Belgian as he is now asked to do less defensive work, with Marcos Alonso playing immediately behind him. It is clear that Hazard has found his confidence again as he is always looking to take players on and when running at full speed, the 25-year-old is unstoppable. On Saturday, Tottenham will look to frustrate Chelsea and will hope their defence reaches the levels that it was before the international break. There will be uncertainty in Spurs’ back four and the home side will be hoping that Hazard can take advantage of it.
The midfielder is still young at the age of 24, but he needs to improve after a slow start to the season. He hasn’t been helped by the constant changing of personnel and tactics. However, he is one of the more experienced players in the Tottenham squad and needs to step up after the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League. This is going to be a difficult period for the squad and it will test their mental strength. Eriksen has played 17 matches in all competitions, contributing two goals and three assists. Tottenham would have expected more from Eriksen, especially in terms of creativity, but he hasn’t been able to find his stride at the start of this season. It was always going to be the case that some Tottenham players would struggle to hit the heights of last season after coming so close to the title and Eriksen has been one of those. That said, he will be crucial to the side’s hopes on Saturday as he is one of the side’s few players with the vision required to break down this formidable Chelsea defence.
John Obi-Mikel and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are both close to a return to action, but they will find it difficult to break into this Chelsea side. Antonio Conte is likely to name an unchanged side from the one that beat Middlesbrough.
Danny Rose will be missing through suspension, while Ben Davies will be out of action until December, which leaves Tottenham with a problem at left-back. Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela are also set to miss out through injury.
It is certainly the pick of the fixtures this weekend and I’d expect it to go with the form book. This will be a much tougher test for Chelsea, but they should have the quality to get the three points. Since the change in formation, Chelsea have looked like real title contenders and I think they will have too much for Tottenham, especially as the visitors will be missing Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose. Although there has been a decline at White Hart Lane in recent weeks, I wouldn’t be overly worried about them as they have a lot of good players and an excellent coach in Mauricio Pochettino. They will all learn from this and come out on the other side a much stronger side.
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham