The London rivals go head-to-head today at White Hart Lane in a clash between two teams with lofty ambitions this season.
Tottenham and Chelsea meet in the clash of this weekend’s Premier League fixture list later today, with both sides eager to get three points and prove that they are genuine contenders for silverware this season.
Traditionally the visitors have had something of a hex over the hosts, both at White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. However, with Andre Villas-Boas’ men bolstering significantly over the summer, this promises to be an enthralling clash.
Here are five factors that will decide the outcome.
AVB vs Mourinho
The respective managers have been caught up in a war of words in the lead up to the clash that has added spice to an already highly anticipated grudge match. Formerly friends and with the younger formerly part of Mourinho’s coaching team, there is seemingly no love lost between the pair ahead of the game. Villas-Boas also has the added motivation of beating a team that sacked him as manager back in March 2012.
From a practical perspective, the managers have the ability to win the game with their tactics and substitutions. Both have decisions to make over personnel in their starting line-ups, and with two star-studded squads it will be the manager that gets the best out of his talented group that will inevitably get the three points.
Win the midfield battle, win the game
One of the most impressive features of the new-look Tottenham side are the players that run the show in the team’s midfield. Although France international Etienne Capoue is unavailable through injury, Villas-Boas has Paulinho, Sandro and Mousa Dembele to call upon in the heart of his side.
Chelsea meanwhile are likely to be without Ramires, and will certainly be without Marco van Ginkel. As a result, Mourinho will need to think carefully about who out of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and David Luiz he picks in the centre of the park.
The battle of the playmakers
Undoubtedly Chelsea have some of the best attacking midfield talent in the division, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata. With Tottenham target Willian and Andre Schurrle added to the mix also, Spurs’ chances of success will depend on their ability to shackle their opponents’ creative forces.
At the other end Christian Eriksen will operate in the number ten position for the hosts and has started his career in England brightly. The Dane certainly has the ability to act as a match winner, in what will be his biggest game in a Tottenham shirt so far.
Vertonghen vs Eto’o
Jan Vertonghen has proven himself as one of the most accomplished and rounded central defenders in England, and although Michael Dawson is the club captain, the Belgian is the side’s talisman at the back.
Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o has been brought to Stamford Bridge to consistently score goals, but as yet has not hit the back of the net. The African forward will be keen to get off the mark here, and Vertonghen will need to watch the former Inter and Barcelona man carefully.
Walker and Townsend/Lamela vs Ashley Cole
Tottenham have found a lot of joy attacking down their right wing this season, with the ever forward-thinking Kyle Walker overlapping Andros Townsend. Andre Villas-Boas may well consider giving Erik Lamela his first Premier League start on the right flank in this clash, but regardless of who plays, Ashley Cole will have his hands full.
To ensure that the England international left-back is not isolated, the Chelsea left winger, whoever it is, will need to go against his natural tendencies and track back when Spurs have the ball.
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