It is not a fixture steeped in history, nor is it one dripping in bile like a Spurs-Arsenal or rare Chelsea-Millwall clash might, but in recent times a dust up between Tottenham and Chelsea has become synonymous with crunching tackles and a fervent atmosphere; and with plenty riding on Wednesday’s meeting between the two sides, we can expect the action to be ratcheted up a few gears once again.
For Spurs, defeat would all but count them out of the title race: they would be 13 points behind their opponents here and in dire need of a miracle to bridge the gap. As for the Blues, Liverpool’s failure to see off Sunderland means that they can extend their lead at the summit of the Premier League to eight points with victory here. Oh, and the not-inconsiderable feat of beating Arsenal’s record for 13 consecutive wins is also in the offing for Antonio Conte’s boys.
A relaxing post-Christmas midweek workout for these 22 players? Not a bit of it.
With Chelsea winning thirteen matches on the bounce, our first line of enquiry has to be: can they win this one?
The obvious answer is yes, of course they can, but there is a feeling that they aren’t quite as strong now as they have been at other points during their glorious run.
Let us explain. It all began on December 11 when Chelsea squeaked home 1-0 against West Brom. They followed that with another pair of narrow 1-0 victories against Sunderland and Crystal Palace – two sides not immune to conceding goals by the barrow-load, so perhaps the Blues’ attacking play, and their 3-4-3 system, have to an extent been found out.
The 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Boxing Day was excellent, but the 4-2 victory over Stoke on New Year’s Eve less so. The Potteries outfit were the better side for much of the contest, and a late Diego Costa goal added some undeserved gloss to the scoreline. So, we conclude that the Blues have done just about enough in December, but are beginning to regress.
Contrast that with Tottenham, who have had an agreeable run of fixtures during the festive period that has witnessed hostings of Hull (3-0) and Burnley (2-1) as well as enjoyable trips to out-of-sorts Southampton (1-4) and Watford (1-4). Thus, Spurs have won their last four matches, which haven’t stretched their players, with a goal difference of +11.
So the hosts, excellent at home anyway (W7 D2 L0), are very much in the ascendancy.
Mauricio Pochettino also has a full squad of players to call upon, with Marcos Alonso a slight doubt for Chelsea with an ankle injury. That could be problematic as there isn’t a natural replacement at left wing-back in the squad; a further quandary for Antonio Conte to consider.
All things considered, it still feels like madness to completely bet against this Chelsea side, and so the draw (23/10 with Betfair) appears to be the smartest investment. With three of the last five meetings between the sides at White Hart Lane ending 1-1, we’ll also add that correct score prediction to our armoury (6/1 with William Hill).
The outstanding feature of this match is that these are the two best defences in the Premier League, with Chelsea conceding just 13 goals this term and Tottenham one more. Both teams are finding the net with regularity too, but this is more of a meeting of two immoveable forces than normal; see Spurs’ 0-1 defeat at Manchester United and Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Sunderland as guides for this encounter.
And so for us, the Under 2.5 Goals bracket (19/20 with Betfair) is perhaps the smartest investment of the match.
Cast your mind back to May when Chelsea mathematically ended Tottenham’s hopes of winning the title. In that feisty 2-2 draw, Mousa Dembele allegedly gouged Diego Costa in the eye, Willian and Danny Rose had to be separated before coming to blows and a tussle near the tunnel threatened to boil over into legitimate violence. All in all, 29 fouls were committed and 12 yellow cards were shown.
This is likely to be a less tempestuous affair, but lest we forget that essentially the same starting elevens will take to the field here. Sometimes memories don’t fade….over 5.5 cards to be shown (Evens with bet365) has to be on board.
The Draw (23/10 with Betfair)
Correct Score: 1-1 (6/1 with William Hill)
Under 2.5 Goals (19/20 with Betfair)
Over 5.5 Cards Shown (Evens with bet365)