The 4-1 triumph in the local derby with West Ham gave Tottenham a much needed confidence bost ahead of the clash with holders Chelsea, the team they have only beaten once in last 12 meetings. The Blues have finally recorded two wins in a row, but they are still not looking like a side capable of reviving their title bid.
Desperate for both Premier League and European success, manager Mauricio Pochettino has been fielding strong sides in club’s Europa League campaign despite the fact that domestic championship clearly has the priority, and this has seen Spurs all but secure the first place in their group. However, many believe that European distractions are exactly what Tottenham does not need now that they look capable of mounting a serious top 4 challenge, and the local derby against Chelsea will be a perfect test of this claim. Namely, while the Blues played their game on Tuesday, Spurs faced Qarabag two days later and the 5,000-mile round trip is bound to leave a negative effect on team’s energy levels ahead of the very important clash against their neighbours. Some first team regulars were rested in Azerbaijan, but the likes of Kane, Eriksen, Vertonghen, Dier and Alderweireld were all in the starting line-up, so it remains to be seen whether they will be able to perform to the best of their abilities on Sunday. And while Tottenham have been scoring goals for fun at White Hart Lane of late, said problems are likely to prevent the hosts from extending the bright run. In-form midfielder Dele Alli is out through suspension, while Moussa Dembele, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose should be recalled after missing the midweek clash.
The team that dominated the 2014/2015 Premier League campaign appear to be effectively out of the title chase after mere 13 rounds, sitting much closer to the bottom three than their title rivals. Chelsea have been all over the place in the opening exchanges, with key men struggling for form and manager Jose Mourinho unable to find the cure for poor results, and it would appear as though the Blues are not in the clear just yet. The Stamford Bridge outfit did record three wins in last four matches, but they struggled against both Dynamo Kiev and Norwich, while only hammering Maccabi Tel Aviv after the opposition had been reduced to ten men. For several weeks now, Willian has been the only shining light in Jose Mourinho’s team and it will probably take some more time before we can say the Blues are back in business. Having conceded just one goal in last three matches, Chelsea will want to keep things tight at the back, especially given Tottenham’s goalscoring record, and they will obviously wait for the opposition to get tired before adopting a more positive approach in the second period. The (not so) Special One will be sweating over the fitness of Ramires and John Terry, but the good news is that Cesc Fabregas is fit to play.
Spurs are well aware that they are not in the best shape after the long journey to Azerbaijan and they will, therefore, be forced to adopt a cautious approach in the local derby. Chelsea, on the other hand, will want to continue with solid defensive showings, meaning that chances should be few and far between at White Hart Lane.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 19/20
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