Chelsea vs Tottenham – Key Battles To Watch

Chelsea vs Tottenham – Key Battles To Watch

Flickr - Ronnie Macdonald

On Saturday March 8th, league leaders Chelsea host 5th place Spurs in an intriguing matchup. Chelsea are looking to stay at least 4 points clear at the top, while Tottenham are looking to get the maximum points as they chase fourth place.

The first thing to watch in this game is how Tim Sherwood lines up his Spurs side away from home. Tottenham have been playing more of a 4-4-2 with Soldado and Adebayor up top. Away from home, does Sherwood decide to put an extra body in midfield to cope with Chelsea’s lineup or does he just decide to go more attacking and chase the three points? Jose Mourinho has never lost at home while managing Chelsea, so expect Sherwood to leave Soldado on the bench to start.

Another thing to look for in this game is who Jose Mourinho selects for his starting eleven. Does Andre Schurrle get the nod over Willian after his hat trick last weekend or does he go back to the Brazilian? Hazard looks to be fit so he should start as well as Oscar, who scored midweek for Brazil in their friendly.

A matchup to watch in this encounter is on the left side between Eden Hazard and Kyle Walker. Walker loves to get forward and join in the attack, but if he does so frequently, he could leave gaps in behind on that side for Hazard to exploit. Aaron Lennon will have to track back and do a job defensively and help out his right back in this game.

Also, if Tottenham are to get anything out of this match, the likes of Sandro and Bentaleb will have to do their job against the attacking four of Chelsea. Sandro and Bentaleb are more defensive minded so they will sit just in front of the back four and allow Paulinho to have license to go forward. If Spurs have any chance, they must slow down the movement of Chelsea.

One other area to watch is Samuel Eto’o. He is expected to start as Chelsea are home and Eto’o has scored all his goals in the EPL at Stamford Bridge. Eto’o has been linking up better with the midfielders and brings better one touch passing than that of Torres or Ba, who both may be on the bench. Eto’o will need to make runs in behind and be clever with his movement to allow his attacking trio behind him to get space to create.

I expect Tottenham to line up with a 4-5-1 to start the game rather than their 4-4-2. Both teams need the three points, so I expect neither side to really go for it until the 2nd half if it is still deadlocked at that point. These two sides faced off earlier in the season at White Hart Lane, where they drew 1-1. In the end, I expect Chelsea to maintain the Premier League’s best defense and get a clean sheet. Chelsea will create chances and I predict that they win again at home, this time 2-0.