Chelsea aim to solidify their position at the top of the Premier League table when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Chelsea come into the match on the back of a run of 13 league matches undefeated that has seen them ascend to the head of the table, four points clear of Liverpool in second, with 63 points from 19 wins, six draws and three defeats.
The Blues laboured during the first half of their 3-1 victory over local rivals Fulham last weekend but sprung to life after the break, with Andre Schurrle (pictured) notching an well-taken hat trick. The summer signing has not enjoyed the best start to life in English football, but if he can replicate that performance could yet have a key part to play in Chelsea’s season.
While Schurrle got the goals, it was again Eden Hazard who was Chelsea’s primary creative threat, providing the assists for the first two of the German’s triple. Hazard is ideally suited to Jose Mourinho’s counter-attacking system and leads the squad in both goals and assists, having contributed (scoring or assisting) to just under a third of the club’s league goals.
Without a prolific striker to count upon, Chelsea’s goal rate is lower than those of Liverpool and Manchester City, two of the other title contenders, but they are the strongest defensive side in the league, having conceded just 0.79 goals per match. Their recent record is even more impressive, with just 0.33 goals per match conceded since the turn of the year.
Marco Van Ginkel (knee) is Chelsea’s only confirmed injury absentee for Saturday’s match. Hazard picked up an ankle knock on international duty with Belgium on Wednesday, but the injury is not serious and he is still expected to start.
Spurs come into Saturday’s match in good form, with a record of eight wins, two draws and two defeats in the 12 matches since Tim Sherwood replaced Andre Villas Boas in mid-December. They are currently fifth in the Premier League with 53 points from 16 wins, five draws and seven defeats.
With Christian Eriksen injured and Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend only sporadically threatening, Spurs struggled to find a way through against a defensive-minded Cardiff City side last weekend. The solitary goal of the match came via a superbly taken effort from the much maligned Roberto Soldado – just his second league goal from open play this season.
The rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor has been Tottenham’s most impressive striker since Sherwood took charge, with eight goals and three assists in 12 league starts, but Soldado’s all-round performance against Cardiff suggested he may rival him over the remainder of the season. With Jermain Defoe gone, Sherwood needs both his senior strikers in form.
Last weekend’s clean sheet was Tottenham’s third in their last five league matches – a good response to the 5-1 defeat to Manchester City in late-January. Michael Dawson performed well in the heart of the defence, but he and his defensive colleagues may find the going tougher in the coming weeks, with matches against Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool following the trip to Chelsea.
Sherwood will definitely be without Erik Lamela (thigh) and Vlad Chiriches (back) for the visit to Stamford Bridge, while Eriksen (back), Danny Rose (knee), Etienne Capoue (ankle), Kyle Walker (hip), Younes Kaboul (calf) and Zeki Fryers (ankle) will all face late fitness tests.
Chelsea v Spurs Hotspur Betting Tips
These sides drew 1-1 at White Hart Lane earlier this season, with Spurs enjoying the better of the first half and Chelsea the better of the second. Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, one of five ties in the last eight matches between them. Chelsea won the other three and have not lost at home to Spurs in going on 24 years.
Chelsea are in good form and carry the sort of sharp, incisive counter-attacking threat that Spurs have struggled to deal with this season, most notably in the 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool that ended the reign of Villas Boas. With three from Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle and Willian operating behind a main striker, Chelsea have plenty of offensive talent.
Spurs have achieved some very good results since Sherwood took charge, but the looser approach he has instituted has led to them sacrificing some of the control that was, positively or negatively, evident under Villas Boas. Chelsea are set up perfectly to take advantage and are rightfully favourites to secure three points on Saturday.
- Back Chelsea to win @ best odds of 8/13 with Ladbrokes.
- 61.5% of Chelsea’s and 67.5% of Tottenham’s goals this season have been scored in the second half. Regardless of which side scores first, we would expect further goals to follow. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ best odds of 23/20 with BetVictor.