Top 10 Chelsea vs Tottenham pre-match talking points
1. Rafa Benitez can relax
For once the opposition manager will be disliked nearly as much as him. AVB was never quite the right fit in the Chelsea hot-seat, although he was still a better fit than Benitez.
2. Andre Villas Boas could ponder what might have been… but he doesn’t want to
John Terry’s the fourth-choice centre-back, Frank Lampard has only a few games left at the club, Didier Drogba has gone: his work has been finished by the Blues’ hierarchy. Will Chelsea fans view his dismantling more positively in retrospect? AVB doesn’t seem to care.
He said: “I’m not sure if enough time has passed for me to feel anything, I was just another manager that passed by. Obviously I spent three great years there when I was on the staff but when I was given more responsibility I wasn’t given enough time.”
3. A win should do it for Chelsea
With their superior goal difference, you’d have to imagine that three points for Chelsea will secure Champions League football for them next season.
4. Arsenal are supporting Chelsea
It’s not unusual for Arsenal fans to have ‘whoever’s playing Spurs’ as their second team, but they’ve got even more reason to subscribe to that philosophy this evening. A Chelsea win would keep the Gunners in the top four with a two point cushion.
5. Expect Mata to matter
Fans of football stats might like to put some money on Juan Mata finding the net tonight. The Spaniard has scored three goals in his last two league and cup games against Spurs. Given his current form, there’s little point betting against him doing it again this evening.
7. Expect Bale to bail Spurs out
Gareth Bale has been instrumental in keeping Spurs’ hopes of Champions League qualification alive in recent weeks. With 11 goals in his last 11 games, he will be key to a Spurs win at Stamford Bridge.
8. Don’t expect to see Mousa Dembele
The early teams news suggested midfielder Dembele was back in contention after a muscle problem forced him off during Saturday’s win over Southampton. But all betting is off on the Belgian featuring after he posted a photo of himself on holiday in Amsterdam on Instagram.
9. Lampard’s still tantalisingly close to Chelsea’s goalscoring record
Lampard is still one short of equalling Bobby Tambling’s club record. You suspect he might enjoy reaching that target against Villas Boas. But Chelsea fans might also consider that Frank probably wouldn’t have got so close to the record without Benitez bringing him back from the fringes.
10. This is it for the season
The title’s been wrapped up for a while and the relegation battle looks much less exciting after Wigan’s home defeat to Swansea last night, so this is just about the pinnacle of the season as a spectacle. With Arsenal’s relatively comfortable run-in, it’s easy to see this as a straight shootout for a Champions League spot. That’s not strictly the case, but we need a bit of end-of-season hyperbole.