Tottenham welcome Chelsea to White Hart Lane on Saturday lunchtime in what is sure to be a big test for both sides.
Odds: Tottenham 7/4, Draw 23/10, Chelsea 15/8
Last season 2-4
It is the first time that Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho will lock horns as managers. Some are calling it The Master v The Apprentice, whilst BT Sport are playing on the connections they both had with former England manager the late Sir Bobby Robson.
Both sides have had relatively good starts to the league season, with Tottenham winning four out of their five league games – their only dropped points being a loss to Arsenal. Last week, people were talking as if Chelsea were in some sort of crisis but a win against Fulham and an amusing televised exchange between Mourinho and Jamie Redknapp seemed to put any talk of that to bed as Chelsea have picked up ten points from their first five games.
Both sides came through their League Cup games this week with wins but Chelsea are without Ramires who has a hip problem and Marco Van Ginkel has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Tottenham are waiting to see if Danny Rose will be fit enough to play any part on in the game whilst Etienne Capoue and Aaron Lennon aren’t expected to return to the side until next month.
With this expected to be an intriguing battle between two managers and two very talented sides, here is a look at five players who may be under the spotlight.
Having scored in each of his last two games for Tottenham, a lot will be expected of him in the middle of the park, especially if it ends up being a very tight contest. But given Chelsea might be missing one or two players in the middle of the park, there will be a lot of pressure on him to shine.
One wonders whether this will be the type of game to throw Juan Mata in to. He hasn’t had as much game time as many of us have expected to him have, but he impressed in the same fixture last season. And with Chelsea picking up a couple of injuries in the past week, perhaps there could be a slight change of system which would accommodate Mata?
He almost signed for Spurs, but chose Chelsea instead. If he plays any part in this game, Willian is sure to get a frosty reception. What would be even worse for Spurs is if he scored the winner.
His neat and tidy play will be crucial through the middle, and whilst Mourinho may be expected to set up his Chelsea team to be solid, Eriksen’s clever and incisive passing may be key to unlocking their defence.
John Obi Mikel
He must be on a high after scoring last week, but Mikel will need to be effective on Saturday to protect the back four. He will probably be given the task of watching Christian Eriksen, and sticking to him as much as possible. That could be a fascinating battle.
Last time they met
Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham – May 2013
The battle for Champions League places was hotting up and produced a very entertaining encounter, but with neither side really satisfied with the end result. Chelsea took the lead early on with Oscar before Emmanuel Adebayor’s wonderful strike hit the Blues on the counter-attack. Chelsea retook the lead thanks to a Ramires strike, a lead they held on to until ten minutes from the end when Gylfi Sigurdsson struck for Spurs to give them a point and keep them in the hunt for a Champions League place.
image: © wonker