Can Tottenham dominate Chelsea’s midfield without Ramires?

The London rivals meet at White Hart Lane on Saturday, and the hosts will look to take advantage of injuries in the Blues’ midfield.

Chelsea progressed through to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a 2-0 win over Swindon on Tuesday night, but the victory was not without sacrifice.

Marco van Ginkel picked up what looks like a serious knee injury, while his replacement Ramires was also replaced at half-time with a hip knock.

With an important Premier League clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday, Jose Mourinho has a midfield selection dilemma on his hands. After losing their first Champions League game at home to Basel, a trip to Romania to face Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday night will be in the back of the Portuguese trainer’s mind also.

Van Ginkel’s injury will be a frustrating one as the young Dutch talent looks to progress with as much game time as he can get at Stamford Bridge. Despite his ability and potential, the former Vitesse Arnhem man would have been unlikely to feature against Tottenham however.

Mourinho will be praying that Ramires is able to recover adequate fitness to feature at White Hart Lane. Although others grab the limelight in west London, the Brazil international is an important cog in the Chelsea wheel.

His industry and energy gives the side purpose in the centre of the park and his tireless work-rate acts as a distraction to opponents. With countrymen Paulinho and maybe Sandro in the Spurs midfield this weekend, Ramires’ knowledge of their style of play and athleticism to go toe-to-toe with the South American pair would be a key advantage for Chelsea.

Should Ramires not be able to feature, Mourinho still has options in the centre of the park but none have the all-round game that the Brazilian offers. Frank Lampard is almost certain to play, with the veteran set to be partnered by either Michel Essien, Jon Obi Mikel or David Luiz. All three have been down Mourinho’s pecking order this term.

One of the strengths of the new-look Tottenham side is their collective ability in the centre of midfield. Paulinho has settled into life in England well and is now a driving force behind Spurs’ attacking game. The former Corinthians man has the physique to battle opponents but also looks to get forward and involved in the side’s attack.

Whether Villas Boas opts for the defensive partner of Sandro or more forward-thinking Mousa Dembele, Chelsea will have a job on their hands to contain the home side’s midfield, which could well be a key facet in the outcome of the clash.

image: © Jason Bagley

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