English Premier League faithful will be treated to a classic this weekend as top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea lock horns at Wembley Stadium in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League action. Spurs have been in better form over the past two months, but they trail their opponents by a point ahead of Saturday evening’s clash.
The problem for Tottenham has been their home form, which has seen them accrue a meagre 22% of their Premier League points at Wembley this season. This figure is the lowest collected at home by any side in the division. Out of the 27 points gotten by Spurs so far this season, only six have come at their temporary home.
Success over Fulham was followed up by a painful defeat to Liverpool, while their laborious win against another relegation candidate in Cardiff City came immediately before a 1-0 loss to Manchester City in their most recent match at the Wembley stadium.
Recent information suggests that Spurs’ new ground will not be complete until February at the earliest, and with three home games to come in the next fortnight, Pochettino knows that his players have to step up their game and cannot afford to drop many more points in front of their own fans.
Either side of a trip to arch-rivals Arsenal on December 3, Tottenham have huge matches against Chelsea, Inter Milan and Southampton to prepare for. In what has been a strange campaign for the Lilywhites so far, this really is defining the period.
Despite the fact that a lot of people expected Maurizio Sarri to struggle upon his delayed arrival at Stamford Bridge in mid-July, the Italian has hit the ground running in his first managerial stint outside of his native Italy.
Sarri, in fact, became the first manager to go his first 12 games unbeaten in the Premier League with the 0-0 draw against Everton a fortnight ago, surpassing Frank Clark’s long-held record of 11 matches set at Nottingham Forest in 1994.
Not since 2014 have Chelsea started a top-flight campaign on a better run, though the Everton stalemate prior to the international break did halt them in their tracks somewhat, allowing Tottenham to close the gap to just one point, while Liverpool and Manchester City pulled further clear above them.
The Blues, champions in two of the last four seasons, have now drawn four of their last seven league matches, having also been held by West Ham United and fellow big boys Liverpool and Manchester United in the past nine weeks.
Before firing a blank against Marco Silva’s stubborn Everton side, Chelsea had racked up five successive wins in all competitions, including victories over Crystal Palace and Burnley in the Premier League, Derby County in the EFL Cup last 16 and BATE Borisov (twice) in the Europa League.
Pochettino has had to contend with a number of injury problems over the last month, particularly in defensive midfield, where the quietly efficient Moussa Sissoko has been asked to fill in.
A number of star men are starting to return to fitness, however, with Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen among those expected to return to the starting fold this weekend.
Jan Vertonghen is out of action until December, while Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose are also not ready to make a return, so Pochettino is not quite at full strength at the back for this busy period.
One of those back fit and firing is Dele Alli, who has scored five goals in his last four games against Chelsea in all competitions.
In terms of the visitors, Mateo Kovacic is the biggest injury concern due to a muscular injury he recently suffered, potentially restricting him to a place on the bench at best.
Should that be the case, Ross Barkley should once again profit alongside regulars N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in the engine room.
That injury aside, Ethan Ampadu – yet to be used by Sarri – is the only confirmed absentee for the Blues after the young midfielder was sent back early from international duty with Wales last week.
The big call for Sarri to make is up top, as Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are both in contention to be given the nod through the middle, likely flanked by Willian and star man Eden Hazard.
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Foyth, Davies; Sissoko, Dier; Lucas, Dele, Eriksen; Kane
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Giroud, Hazard
Head To Head
Tottenham have won three of their last seven Premier League meetings with Chelsea, matching the number they had won in their previous 49 top-flight encounters.
The Blues have picked up the victory in just two of their last 12 trips to Spurs, though one of those came in the corresponding fixture in August of last season.
Spurs exacted revenge by claiming a 3-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge the last time the sides met, and they are now seeking constitutive league wins in this fixture for the first time since August 1987.
Chelsea has fallen off the pace slightly at the top of the Premier League because of a high number of draws over the past couple of months. Tottenham have quietly gone about their business, meanwhile, and could leapfrog their opponents into third place with a seventh victory in eight league matches, though that would mean beating the Blues in back-to-back Prem games for the first time. Our prediction is an away win or draw for Chelsea.