Preview: Chelsea vs Tottenham
Chelsea usually come out on top at home to Tottenham.
The statistics are heavily in favour of the Blues: 24 years without a home defeat to Spurs and yet to lose in the league since New Year and if they win they will go seven points clear at the top of the table.
Jose Mourinho wouldn’t want his incredible home record taken away by a London rival.
All four of his Brazilian players Oscar, Ramires, David Luiz and Willian travelled to South Africa, so Mourinho will have to pay close attention to their fatigue levels ahead of tomorrow’s clash. Eden Hazard is also a doubt after picking up an ankle knock while with Belgium.
Chelsea are likely to start with Peter Cech in goal. There are no significant reasons for Mourinho to change his back four, so Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and the impressive Cesar Azpilicueta should start in defence.
Nemanja Matic should be partnered by a fresh Frank Lampard in the middle of the park. Oscar may not be risked after travelling so far, but will probably start in his central role.
It will be interesting to see how the Special One deals with the remaining two midfield places. If Hazard is fit then Willian, Mohamed Salah and Andre Schurrle may have to battle it out for the remaining spot. If not, then Willian’s work rate and Schurrle’s form should see the pair given the nod ahead of Salah.
Samuel Eto’o should take up the role up top.
Tottenham will have to face Chelsea with probably the most debilitating injury list of all the top five teams. Defenders Vlad Chiriches, Zeki Fryers and Danny Rose are all out. Etienne Capoue and Christian Eriksen are also missing in midfield, and Erik Lamela completes the list of senior players to miss the London derby with an injury.
Jermain Defoe is settling in Canada with his new side Toronto FC, while Younes Kaboul and Kyle Walker are racing for match fitness.
Manager Tim Sherwood is likely to let the Blues take the initiative since this is an away fixture. He should go with Hugo Loris in goal, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Naughton at the back.
Sandro and Mousa Dembele should sit in front of the back four to mainly protect the defence and make limited box-to-box movements. Paulinho’s quality should be complemented by the pace of Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.
Emmanuel Adebayor is an obvious option to play up front alone.
This is going to be an interesting game. While Chelsea has an upper hand coming into the game; they need to carefully manage their squad. Too much chopping and changing could harm the fluidity of the team, and yet a team lacking freshness could easily be found out by a quality side like Tottenham.