THE intense modern rivalry between Chelsea and Tottenham continues on Sunday with a meeting that could shape the Champions League picture next season.
Tottenham Hotspur may have rained on Chelsea’s parade with an emphatic victory last season, but they failed to stop the mighty Blues clinching the Premier League title under the tutelage of Antonio Conte.
The Italian may have joined an elite list of managers to have won the Premier League in their debut season, but he, like most, hasn’t been spared from the blushes that come with defending the coveted prize.
Chelsea’s season has been littered with a litany of mishaps; from selling integral team players in Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic, to overlooking the most dominant strength in its title-winning campaign — defense.
As such, Chelsea’s results have taken a nosedive this season as Antonio Conte finds himself without a leg to stand on having conceded the Premier League crown to Manchester City.
Although Chelsea will be scraping the bottom of the barrel in order to taste success this campaign – having booked a place in the semi-final of the FA Cup against Southampton – it’s highly unlikely that even that could appease Roman Abramovich from pressing the big red shiny firing button.
The Blues are fifth on the table with 56 points, five points behind the Spurs, who are desperate to occupy the last Champions League qualifying spot. With eight games to go before the curtain descends on the current Premier League campaign, Antonio Conte’s fate is surely written in stone.
His refusal to wilt even in the face of the harshest of tribulations gives his side a fighting chance. Despite successive defeats to both Manchester United and Manchester City in the Premier League, their brave attacking exhibition in the return leg loss to Barcelona during the last 16 of the Champions was something to build on.
And build they did, as the Londoners shook off the defeat by making it to the last four of the FA Cup, after a 2-1 win over Leicester City in extra time.
Tottenham has also made it to Wembley, as they secured a grudge tie with Manchester United in the semi-final following a convincing 3-0 victory over Swansea City right before the international break.
The Spurs have reeled off four wins in their last five Premier League games, but Mauricio Pochettino is expected to employ a similar approach like he did against the Swans in the absence of his main man, Harry Kane.
Spurs allayed initial fears about Kane missing the FIFA World Cup by revealing that the England forward will make a comeback in April; albeit without putting a date on his return. In this regard, the Chelsea game comes a bit too soon for the 24-year old, who sustained an ankle injury during the 4-1 win over Bournemouth.
Harry Winks is still undergoing further investigations for an ankle injury while Toby Alderweireld’s absence stretches on.
Andreas Christensen is sidelined for Chelsea as is David Luiz and quite possibly, Thibaut Courtois who has been struggling with a hamstring injury. Ross Barkley’s prolonged absence will see him miss yet another mouthwatering encounter.
Chelsea vs. Tottenham betting prediction
Tottenham’s numbers show that Pochettino has been heavily reliant on Harry Kane, but the Spurs boss knows a victory could potentially knock Chelsea out of the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.
The Blues have vowed to fight in a last attempt to break the shackles that have crippled their progress this season with nothing short of a victory.
Match prediction: Both teams to score – -138.89 on William Hill
Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur recent results
Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea (August 20, 2017)
Michy Batshuayi 82′ (OG)
Marcos Alonso Mendoza 24′, 88′
Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea (January 4, 2017)
Dele Alli 45’+1, 54′
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham (November 26, 2016)
Victor Moses 51′
Christian Eriksen 11′
Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (November 26, 2016)
Gary Cahill 58′
Eden Hazard 83′
Harry Kane 35′
Son Heung-min 44′
Tottenham 0-0 Chelsea (November 29, 2015)
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