The biggest fixture of the Premier League weekend is the London derby taking place at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham will make the short trip to face Chelsea in a match that will have big implications at the top of the division. The home side must win if they are to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive. A victory would see them move to two points within Spurs, but a loss would see the gap increase to eight. That would surely be too much to make up over what remains of the league season. In the previous meeting of the two clubs this season, the current champions did take the three points thanks to two goals from Marcos Alonso. Another similar result would be well received in West London.
The summer is shaping up to be another important one for Chelsea as they will have lots to do if they are to emerge as a title-contending force once again. Their regression over the last 12 months has been spectacular and is likely to lead to Antonio Conte losing his job this summer. The Italian hasn’t been as committed and has lost the passion that he showed during his first season in charge, which has had a negative effect on the squad. Their season is far from over, but a top-four finish and FA Cup triumph would only paper over the cracks.
Tottenham have a great opportunity to pull away from their opposition this weekend and they will be looking to do that, despite the continued absence of Harry Kane. They have won their last four Premier League fixtures and are in good form heading into the match at Stamford Bridge. It would be another good achievement if they were to finish in the top-four again, even if they finish lower in the table. Spurs are currently in a period of growth and being regulars in the Champions League is crucial in sustaining that. A win on Sunday will go a long way to clinching a top-four finish.
Tottenham have only won twice in the last 18 meetings between the two clubs.
Chelsea have won three of their last four matches against Tottenham.
There have been 18 goals scored in the last five matches between these two top-six rivals.
2018 has been a difficult year for Chelsea to date, but a rare bright spot has been the form of Willian. The Brazilian international has struggled to break into the first-team since Antonio Conte was appointed, but he is now emerging as one of the most important players at the club. Eden Hazard had been the attacker that the Blues had relied on for the first-half of the season and it was obvious that he needed assistance. That has come from the 29-year-old winger, who has got five goals and one assist in his last six matches for the club across all competitions. He continued his good form during the international break, as he got the assist for the winning goal against Germany for Brazil in what was a confidence-boosting win for the national team. Willian is now likely to be a starter at the World Cup and he will be keen to go into the tournament playing like he is at the moment. Tottenham are a well-organised team, but the dynamism and individual flair of the attacker will cause them problems. He will be the player that the visitors are most worried about on Sunday.
Tottenham are likely going to have to cope without Harry Kane for this weekend and that increases the importance of Son Heung-Min. The South Korean international has established himself as the backup striker for the club and his goal threat has increased over the course of this season. During the last campaign, he scored 14 times in the Premier League and he is set to surpass that this season. He is currently on 12 goals and he will be looking to get on the score-sheet again this weekend in a game that could strengthen the team’s position in the top-four. Before the international break, he had scored seven goals and contributed one assist in his last five matches across all competitions. He will be the most likely scorer for Spurs and it is important that he is given service. If he does get chances, he could prove to be the match-winner at Stamford Bridge.
Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen are both facing late fitness tests to be passed fit for this weekend after suffering knocks during the international break. David Luiz and Ross Barkley won’t feature for the home side.
Harry Kane will be given every chance to prove his fitness, but he is unlikely to feature against Chelsea. It would be a risk to rush him back and Pochettino has been reluctant to take such gambles on players in the past. Harry Winks will definitely miss out for the visitors as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
Fixtures between these top-six clubs have been great to watch in recent years and they are building a modern-day rivalry as both clubs look to challenge at the top of the English game. The pressure is on Chelsea this weekend as they must get a positive result to keep their hopes of finishing above Tottenham alive. Although a loss wouldn’t make it mathematically impossible, it would make the task look even more daunting than it does now. The Blues weren’t great before the international break and their performances across 2018 so far have been under par. If they perform to a similar level, Tottenham will have a great chance of taking the three points, but the home side normally up their game when facing Pochettino’s men. An entertaining score draw is the most likely result this weekend.