Chelsea vs Tottenham
Venue: Stamford Bridge
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Spurs will need to ignite the spirit of King Harold Godwinson’s epic victory over Viking invaders in 1066, at the actual Battle of Stamford Bridge, to see off a Chelsea side keenly awaiting the chance to once again put Spurs in their place.
Cast your memory back to May 2016, and Spurs crumbled and butchered their way out of a two horse title race. In March 2018, Pochettino and his men once again head west across London to face Chelsea in a decisive battle for Champions league qualification.
More recent history has been favourable to Chelsea against the Lilywhites, League Cup final and semi-final victories, winning the last Battle of Stamford Bridge, and Spurs failing to claim a victory at Chelsea’s soon to be rebuilt home ground in 28 years.
For Tottenham, they must start to prove that they can navigate these big fixtures without losing concentration, as they did against Juventus, or losing their cool, as they did 2 years ago in the same fixture.
For Chelsea, Conte must move away from his defensive false 9 set up playing Hazard through the middle. It appears he is the only person in the world who truly believes in the vision of a swift counterattack through Hazard, Pedro and WIllian actually working. It works on paper, maybe even on Football Manager, but the reality is Conte needs to start utilising his target men for Chelsea to have a workable exit strategy.
Willian, if at his best, will seriously test what has become slightly less of a shield wall since the loss of Alderweireld, and more of a Saxon defensive line that broke rank and chased after supposedly fleeing Norman foot soldiers, with the taste of victory in their mouths, only to be cut down by cavalry at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. On Sunday, Pochettino’s men must hold formation against what can be a fluid and destructive Chelsea attack.
Pochettino has a selection dilemma going forward. Harry Kane allegedly has a small chance of making an appearance, if he does it makes Poch’s decision even more difficult. Does he leave out Dele Alli? Is Lucas ready to start such an important game? A fluid 3 of Lucas, Lamela and Erisken behind an in form Son, with all able to beat a man and pick a pass, could be a lethal combination.
Big games like this are often won and lost in the midfield. Dembele vs Kante and Eriksen vs Fabregas will be defining contests on Sunday. The winners of these mini-battles are likely to go on and win the match.
Looking at recent history, or “football heritage” as Jose Mourinho has decided to call it, Chelsea have the edge and I expect them to once again send Spurs running back to White Hart Lane humbled and defeated. Score prediction therefore is Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham.
Be sure to join as back here at 90maat.com for the post match analysis of what is going to be a spicy affair at 2018’s Battle of Stamford Bridge.
Written by Chris Wyles