Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, Saturday 24th March 2012, Stamford Bridge, 12.45pm kick off, SS2 & HD2 and in 3D
THFC1882 is once again delighted to welcome back Kenny Palmer for his preview of the important game on Saturday.
Saturdays visit to Stamford Bridge against Roberto Di Matteo’s revitalized Chelsea takes on even greater importance after an injury time goal by Rafael Van der Vaart salvaged a draw for Spurs on Wednesday night and ended the teams run of 3 defeats on the bounce but extended the run without a win in the league to 5 games.
The draw was compounded by Arsenal’s victory against Everton which means Spurs slip to 4th in the chase for a Champions League place. Wasn’t this Arsenal team meant to be the worst in the Wenger era and as Redknapp keeps telling the media the best Spurs team in many a year? Looks like the gap has been breached!
Tottenham held a 10-point lead over Arsenal before the north London derby at the Emirates on February 26 – but less than a month later they are now behind Arsenal.
Wednesday s unconvincing performance against Stoke was characterised by sloppy and misplaced passing, bluntness in front of goal and ineptness in dead situations. The OtaJoe stats highlight what all Spurs fans already know: Tottenham haven’t scored from a Premier League free kick since 1 January 2011 and you have to go back to 26 January 2010 since the Lilywhites last scored from a direct free kick shot. As countless corners fail to pass the first man it comes as no surprise that Spurs have taken 121 corners since they last scored from one!
Its common knowledge that Redknapp does not do any coaching but the fact that his lieutenants Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan haven’t addressed Spurs poor execution of dead ball situations on the training field reflects badly on them.
The teams’ early season form and attractive winning football has evaporated and the team now has no belief and conviction in their play. What is disconcerting is that Redknapp, the England elect manager, seems to have no solutions on how to halt this dip in form. He has nothing in the way of tactical adjustments or team selection. Even his somewhat overstated motivations skills seems to have deserted him as he admitted after Wednesdays game he tried a ruse of telling the players that both Arsenal and Chelsea were ahead when the players went in for the half time break to try to spark them into action.
Saturday s hosts Chelsea have Spurs firmly in their sights chasing down that 4th position in the league. Since the departure of the sacked AVB and the reintroduction of the senior players they seem to be playing with a lot more belief and confidence.
They will be buoyed by the fact that they have never lost a Premier League game at home to Tottenham, winning 13 and drawing 6 of the matches. The players seem to be somewhat over confident that they will get a result against Spurs with Peter Cech and Gary Cahill coming out in the press that Tottenham are there for the taking. This cockiness should serve as motivation for Redknapp and the Spurs players.
John Terry who sat out the defeat against Manchester City will likely return to the team as will the Ivorian international Didier Drogba who was on the bench. Ivanovic picked up a knock in the game and is a major doubt. It is hoped he does not recover as his likely replacement Bosingwa hasn’t the defensive ability to contain Gareth Bale!
Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba will be the main danger men for Chelsea. The Spurs backline will have to be at their best to contain them.
It is imperative for a stuttering Spurs that they keep some daylight between themselves and Chelsea in 5th with the points gap 5 points. Harry Redknapps men have only won 2 of the last 9 premier league games which is a dreadful run.
The 2 main injury doubts for the Spurs are Emmanuel Adebayor and Aaron Lennon. Lennon still recovering from a hamstring injury will probably start on the bench. It is hoped that Adebayor fully recovers for the game. He is crucial for the way Spurs play whether in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation his all-round forward play, leading the line, hold up and link play has been excellent, his absence in the team has been greatly missed.
As a draw would be a good result in the context for a top 4 berth I expect Redknapp to dispense with playing 2 strikers which he has done in the previous away games to no success and go with a 4-3-2-1 formation which he used against Norwich with a midfield three of Sandro, Parker and Modric with Bale and Van Der Vaart in free roles behind Adebayor, when out of possession the team will drop to a more solid 4-5-1. That performance in December was Spurs last away win.
Spurs record at Stamford Bridge is abysmal Chelsea are undefeated in their last 14 home matches against the team from White Hart Lane in all competitions winning 4 out of the last 5 matches, while Tottenham have failed to win their last 5 away matches in the league.
Chelsea will have one eye on their away Champions League fixture to Benfica on Tuesday which Spurs should capitalize on. It will be an evenly contested London Derby but I expect Spurs will be good enough to earn a draw 1-1!
Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )
The opposing fans view this week comes from youngster Josh Robinson. He has supported Chelsea for all of his 16 years as it’s in his blood and his favourite past players include Robben, Carvalho and Crespo. Present day hero’s include Lampard, Terry, Mata, Ramires and Ivanovic. He is is take on tomorrow’s game:
What a game this potentially could be. Previous games between the ‘top teams’ have had goals galore and the neutrals will be hoping for the same again. We go into the game with confidence installed from interim manager Di Matteo, whilst Tottenham have been on a less impressive run in recent weeks. Chelsea, under RDM, have got the results but we haven’t been totally convincing at all (bar the Napoli game). Stoke at home was very unprofessional after we scored the goal and against Leicester, after we went 3-0 up, there was also a high level of unprofessionalism by some of the players. The Stoke game in the last 20 minutes was quite unbelievable, it was like our game plan was ‘Stoke are dangerous with set pieces so let’s give them as many as we can by giving away needless and silly fouls’.
Drogba put in a great performance (2nd half and onwards) against Napoli last Wednesday and Torres scored two and assisted two against Leicester in the FA Cup quarter final on Sunday. Torres put in a solid and more confident display against Man City on Wednesday too. I would start Torres, especially against Spurs’ tall centre backs who would be required to keep an eye on Torres’ clever runs on the shoulder- we won’t pick out Torres with those runs due to our lack of creative spark, of course. It is unknown whether John Terry will be fit for the match but we have options of Cahill and Luiz if he is not but the sad potential absence is Branislav Ivanovic; this is because Bosingwa is a nailed on cert’ to start at right-back if Brana is not fit. Bale vs Bosingwa, what could possibly go wrong? Sturridge didn’t take part at all against City (in my opinion he should have came on instead of Essien) and so will be fresh, ready and hopefully hungry, for the game ahead.
This game is now massive for Chelsea; pretty vital for Spurs too. We lost against City in poor style and with Arsenal continuing their good run of form, this game is now a ‘must win’ for a top 4 finish. Big game, hopefully our big players turn up. I read a stat yesterday that we, joint with QPR, have lost the most points from winning positions this season- that speaks a thousand words.
I always predict 2-0 in any Chelsea game when anyone asks me. It’s not just sheer arrogance, it’s just a safe scoreline to go for. I’m quite the pessimist.
My starting XI:
Bosingwa, Terry, Luiz, Cole;
Sturridge, Mata, Kalou;
My Prediction for likely starting XI:
Bosingwa, Terry, Luiz, Cole;
Sturridge, Mata, Kalou;
‘Big game’. ‘Must win’. ‘Got to turn our attention on the next game’. ‘We’re taking it game by game’. Cliches galore; let’s hope there is goals galore… but just for Chels. We can only hope.
Josh ( @Robboandsports on Twitter )
Many thanks to Kenny and Josh for giving their time to preview the game.
Massive game which we need to get something out of or our end of season form is beginning to look a lot like last season.
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