Chelsea welcome London rivals, Tottenham, to Stamford Bridge this Wednesday (2:45 PM EST), where in their last 34 games at home The Blues have won 28 and lost just once.
The return home will be a welcomed one for Chelsea, who are coming off the back of a nil all draw at Sunderland. All credit must be given to the resolute Sunderland team that kept Chelsea off of the score sheet for the first time all season. Lee Cattermole put in a man of the match performance as he and his teammates turned a dynamic offense into one short of answers.
However, the defensive performance, taken right from the ‘park-the-bus’ school of Jose Mourinho, did not deflate the Chelsea manager’s spirit
“Of course this year’s party’s still on,” Mourinho said after the game. “Sunderland defended very, very well. Some people, some football Einsteins, criticise defensive teams, they say defending is a crime but I don’t, they were playing for a clean sheet, they were successful in that objective and I praise them.”
Any result other than a win at home to Tottenham, however, will be a disappointment and History is on Chelsea’s side when it comes to this fixture. In fact, Tottenham have not won in any competition at Stamford Bridge since 1990. Furthermore, in their last 14 home matches in the Premier League, Chelsea have kept 11 clean sheets while failing to score only twice.
Tottenham, though, have won three of their last four and will be looking to ruin Chelsea’s unbeaten record this season. Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, who came to Spurs in the summer has brought along with him the expansive style of play which made him so successful with Southampton last season. It is unlikely he will set his team up to sit back and defend as Sunderland did.
Playing in a more open game should benefit Chelsea, who have the personnel at the back and in midfield to cope with attacking teams. Look for a Chelsea team to control the midfield and hurt Spurs on the counter-attack.
Thibault Courtois is among the best keepers in the world and at just 22-years-old looks to have a long career ahead of him at Chelsea.
At some point over the congested December schedule (Chelsea have 8 games in four weeks) we should see Filipe Luis and Kurt Zouma inserted into the lineup.
However, that is more likely the case in the Champions League and League cup games, as Mourinho will continue to go with his strongest back four in order to maintain Chelsea’s lead atop the Premier League.
Look for Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta to start, as they have in 11 of Chelsea’s 13 Premier League games.
Though Chelsea’s midfield controlled most of the play against Sunderland, they were unable to break through the wall of 10 defenders. With that said, it did not appear that any of the midfield players were particularly leggy or disinterested but rather that Sunderland performed immensely. Thus, it is not expected that Mourinho will make changes before Wednesday’s game.
Cesc Fabregas has dished out ten assists in his first 13 games, putting him well on track to break the Premier League record of 20 in one season. Fabregas who came closest to the record, with 19 during his time at Arsenal, will be eager to keep his current pace as he looks to slip in the likes of Eden Hazard.
Hazard is a constant threat down the left wing and is the most fouled man in the Premier League. From those set pieces, Chelsea can create goals off the foot of Oscar, as they did against Crystal Palace, when the Brazilian struck from 25 yards out last month.
Mourinho, may have finally found his man on the right side of midfield in Willian, who has put in a number of impressive performances lately. He came the closest to scoring against Sunderland, when he hit the post in the first half and was Chelsea’s biggest threat all game. Also, Willian picked up his second goal in all competitions against Schalke last week in the Champions League.
Diego Costa was lucky not to be sent off against Sunderland, though he did picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, earning him a one game suspension. In his absence Chelsea have formidable replacements in Didier Drogba and Loic Remy.
Drogba has a great record against Tottenham, scoring three and assisting four in his last eight appearances against Spurs. However, with his age and lack of speed, Remy may be the more logical choice from the start with Drogba coming of the bench in the second half.
Via – Lineup Builder