Spurs travel to Stamford Bridge this Saturday for the late kick off. Chelsea’s ground hasn’t been kind to Tottenham in the Premier League era, we haven’t recorded a single victory there in that time. In fact our last win came on the 10 February 1990, the day FW de Clerk, then President of Apartheid era South Africa, announced that he would release Nelson Mandela. Spurs’ recorded a 2-1 win to mark the occasion, courtesy of a goal from David Howells and a late winner from Gary Lineker – yes kids, he did used to play a bit.
Chelsea sit top of the Premier League by four points from Liverpool and Arsenal, however Manchester City will climb above them on goal difference if they can win their two games in hand. They are ten points clear of Spurs in fifth.
As you would expect from a Mourinho team, Chelsea don’t concede many goals. In fact they have conceded the fewest in the division, a total of 22 (5 goals fewer than next best Everton). They are unbeaten in 13 games in the league, their last loss was 3-2 to Stoke back in December; although they were recently knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City. Mourinho still boasts an unbeaten home record in the Premier League, emphasising the size of the task facing Spurs.
Chelsea normally line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Apart from their impressive defensive record, their biggest strength is in midfield where they have a wealth of attacking talent – Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, Willian. The return of Nemanja Matic in the January transfer window has added steel to the creativity. If they do have a weakness, it’s up front. Neither Eto nor Fernando Torres have been consistent this season.
The stand-out performer for the West Londoners has been Eden Hazard who has 12 goals and 7 assists this term. The Belgian is an injury doubt after picking up an ankle knock on international duty but reports suggest he will recover in time for the match. Jose Mourinho should be able to pick from a full squad, apart from long term knee injury victim, Marco Van Ginkel.
Spurs must try to build some momentum after last weekends win against Cardiff. This wasn’t a convincing victory and the performance will need to improve if they are to get anything from this tricky away fixture. We have a very tough schedule in March, and if we are to entertain any hope of finishing fourth this season, we will need to take points off some of the bigger sides.
Tottenham have a defensive injury crisis, particularly at fullback where Zeki Fryers is the latest to pick up a knock. Rose and Chiriches are also out, while Walker is a slight doubt but should be fit. This brings up the worrying prospect of Kyle Naughton playing at left back. Vertonghen may fill in if Kaboul is available to partner Dawson in the centre.
Long term absentees, Lamela and Capoue are still missing but Christian Eriksen should return. The Dane was sorely missed against Cardiff and has become a key part of our attack. Without him we lack creativity and a set piece specialist.
Having to play makeshift fullbacks against Chelsea’s exciting midfield three sounds like a recipe for disaster. Add in Dawson, who tends to struggle against pace and through balls, and this has the ring of the thrashing against Liverpool. It is vital to add some defensive cover in midfield and for our wingers to help their fullbacks.
I would line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Sandro patrolling the area in front of the defence. Chelsea’s quick, skilfull, attacking midfield players pose a big threat and playing someone to pick up their movement between the lines is essential. In addition, I think playing five in midfield actually makes us more offensive, as it allows us to get greater numbers into key midfield areas, play two wingers in addition to Christian Eriksen centrally, and get numbers forward to support the central striker. This was our formation at Newcastle where we put in our best attacking performance of the season.
It’s a shame to drop Soldado straight after his confidence boosting goal last week, so I would expect to bring him on as a substitute.
So my team would be:
What do you think of my team? Please leave your comments below.
Chelsea are strong favourites at 1.59, the draw is 4.1 and a Tottenham win is out at 7.8.