Teams hopeful of staying in touch at the top of the Premier League table clash when Tottenham Hotspur host Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Spurs have been the league’s most consistent finishers over the last three seasons, with three consecutive top-three finishes. They are again in the mix this time around, five points shy of leaders Manchester City in fourth, a point and a place behind their visitors this weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are not only four points up on their haul from the same stage last season but are also three points better off than they were from their fixtures against the same opponents. That despite the sensation that they are yet to really get going this season amongst various injury problems and a series of functional if unconvincing displays.
A 1-0 win away to Crystal Palace prior to the international break was Tottenham’s sixth victory by a one-goal margin this season. Juan Foyth headed home the winning goal just past the hour in the aftermath of a blocked effort from a corner. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was then called into action to prevent their hosts grabbing a late equaliser in sodden conditions.
The underlying statistics support the impression that Spurs are a team whose output has regressed at both ends of the pitch in comparison to last season. However, they are still probably the fourth-best team in the Premier League. To have accumulated 27 points without being able to call regularly on Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli or Jan Vertonghen represents a very solid starting position for the remainder of the campaign.
There are still some personnel problems to be addressed in the full-back positions and the centre of midfield, exacerbated by the injury Moussa Dembele picked up at the start of month that will keep him out until the New Year. One would assume that with at least Alli and Eriksen now ready for selection, performances are likely to improve.
Indeed, the expectation should be that Spurs will finish the season much closer to Chelsea than to the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United seeking to apply pressure from behind.
That Chelsea are already considered a favourite to return the top three following last season’s fifth-place finish is a testament to the rapidness with which they have adapted to the methods of new coach Maurizio Sarri. His proactive approach on both sides of the ball has immediately produced a side whose share of possession and shots have notably increased.
Chelsea followed their seemingly standard pattern of a downturn following a title success by enduring a difficult season in coming fifth last time out. An average positive goal difference of 1.37 per match in their title-winning campaign of 2016-17 gave way to one of just 0.63 per match in Antonio Conte’s second season at the helm. Sarri has swiftly reversed that trend. So far this season, Chelsea have had an average goal difference of 1.58 per match.
Sarri’s side are unlikely to compete with Manchester City (or, indeed, Liverpool) for this season’s title, as he himself has been quick to admit. He does look to be putting the building blocks in place for a team who could be ready to mount a more serious challenge next season if a few issues with ageing options in particular positions are rectified.
Chelsea dropped a couple of points in a 0-0 draw at home to Everton prior to the international break in which they probably created enough chances to have reasonably come away with the three points yet were unable to do so. That means that they would fall behind Spurs in the table if they were defeated on Saturday.
Our Preview’s Spurs vs Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
In recent years, matches between these sides have generally gone in favour of the home team but that was not the case last season. Chelsea won 2-1 at Wembley in August, only for Spurs then to get their revenge in a 3-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge in April.
The bookies actually have Chelsea as the favourites to emerge victorious this weekend, but that somewhat underestimates Spurs. With some key players returning, Tottenham are capable of asserting themselves, picking at some of the flaws that do still exist in Chelsea’s makeup, and securing all three points. So the betting tip for our Spurs vs Chelsea preview is:
- Bet on Tottenham Hotspur to win @ best odds of 15/8 with BetVictor.