Chelsea vs Tottenham
Chelsea continue their title-chasing campaign on at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night in a midweek London derby against an inconsistent but always dangerous Tottenham Hotspur side.
After their total domination in Gelsenkirchen last Wednesday night when they were not flattered at all by their 5-0 win, it was almost inevitable that they would find it more difficult against a dogged Sunderland side who were determined not to suffer the same fate. That goalless draw extended their run to twenty games unbeaten in all competitions so far this season, and indeed they have not tasted Premier League defeat since Sunderland again surprised them with a 2-1 win at the Bridge back in April. Such has been Chelsea’s domination so far this campaign that some bookmakers have already cashed out on them winning the league, but Jose Mourinho is far too astute to fall for the premature hype, and Manchester City’s impressive win at Southampton will have sent a warning shot across the bows of anyone foolish enough to write them off. Chelsea’s success continues to revolve around the solidity of John Terry and Gary Cahill at the back, the artistry of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas in midfield, and the bullying directness of Diego Costa up front. With names like Schurrle, Oscar, Ramirez and Willian to back them up, and the underrated quality of Nemanja Matic providing the glue in the middle, Chelsea are looking like the complete package this season.
In vast contrast, Tottenham under Maurizio Pochettino have enjoyed, or endured, a stuttering season of fits and starts, with five defeats to go with their six wins and eighteen goals for and against giving them a goal difference of zero, which will never be good enough for a team with such high aspirations. Their win against Everton on Sunday, following their 2-1 win at Hull was the first time since the opening two games of the season that they strung back-to-back wins together, and yet despite their inconsistency, they sit in seventh spot, just a win away from occupying a Champions League qualifying spot. Pochettino will probably be relieved to have Europa League qualification secured with one group game left to play, enabling him and his players to focus fully on domestic matter for a couple of months. He will probably be even more relieved to have seen Roberto Soldado finally open his Premier league account for the season with the winner against Everton, because he will not want too much pressure to fall on the young shoulders of Harry Kane, who is playing out of his skin since finally being made part of the starting line up.
If Tottenham turn up, this could well be one of those thrilling floodlit encounters, but ultimately I think their shortcomings will be exposed by Chelsea’s superiority in every department, and an early goal could well make this a very long night for the Tottenham defensive line.