Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, Saturday 20th October, White Hart Lane, 12,45 kick off SS2, SSHD2 & SKY3D

The International break is over and it’s now time to get back to the business of Premier League football as we turn our attention to the visit of reigning European and F A Cup champions Chelsea.  A tough match for sure and here to preview it is Kenny Palmer.

Andre Villas-Boas’s Tottenham host league leaders Chelsea in a fixture the young Portuguese manager has most likely been looking forward to more than any game since being appointed manager of Spurs and the fixture list was announced.

The problems Villas-Boas’s encountered while manager of Chelsea have been well documented, this game will give him an opportunity for redemption and a means to prove a point to himself, Chelsea and the doubting press pack who are still spinning a anti and negative Villas-Boas narrative at odds with the great run of form the team are currently under.

Tottenham will go into the game brimming with confidence and momentum behind them on the back of four consecutive wins in the premier league, the last an assured and impressive win two weeks ago, before the international break, beating Aston Villa 2-0. A game in which the French international captain made his debut in the premier league keeping a clean sheet in the process. The game also saw the welcome return from injury of the Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor whose 2nd half cameo appearance was a taster of what he will bring to the team.

Villas-Boas will have used the international break preparing the strategy to beat Chelsea. One of his strengths as a manager is that he is a strategic thinker with an unparalleled attention to detail.

Chelsea managed by Roberto Di Matteo, who was Villas-Boas’s former assistant when the Portuguese was in charge of the West London team, have started the season in excellent fashion. They lead the league with 19 points and are one of the two unbeaten teams in the Barclays Premier League playing some impressive expansive football in the process.

The main danger men to Spurs will be the three creative midfielders of Mata, Oscar and Hazard behind Torres. The three are highly technical players who look to interchange during the game. They are afforded the freedom to express themselves in the final third as they will have the security of Mikel and probably Ramires holding. Frank Lampard missed the England double header and is likely not to have recovered in time to play on Saturday. Chelsea will also be missing their captain John Terry as he has chosen not to challenge the four-match ban and £220,000 fine imposed on him for racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand by the FA who had dismissed his defence as improbable, implausible and contrived!

Its disappointing Terry won’t be playing as he’s a player in decline, lacking pace which Spurs could have exploited and also perversely his presence on the pitch always seems to galvanize the White Hart Lane faithful with numerous pejorative songs aimed at him getting the crowd going.

Gary Cahill will partner David Luiz in central defence, a not wholly convincing pairing which Spurs may get some joy off. The Brazilian international is still prone to erratic performances at the back and for a centre back he is positionally indisciplined in the role.

On the back of an excellent run it is unlikely Villas-Boas will make too many changes to a winning team. This is a game the Portuguese manager will be desperate to win so there will be no place for sentiment when he selects the team. As well as Brad Friedel has been playing this season, Lloris is the better keeper and had an excellent game midweek for France against Spain; it’s likely he’ll retain his place in goal. Goalkeeper is not a position you want to rotate, whoever plays on Saturday I envisage being the number one for the remainder of the season for league games.

Despite Benoit Assou-Ekotto returning to training the defence is likely to be unchanged from the back four who kept a clean sheet against Villa, with Vertonghen continuing at left back and the impressive Steven Caulker partnering William Gallas in central defence.

The midfield should be unchanged from the previous game which will see Mousa Dembele partnering Sandro with Clint Dempsey in the advanced midfield role behind the striker.

The main selection dilemma for Villas-Boas will be who to lead the line. Does he continue with Jermain Defoe who has started the campaign in goal scoring form or give Adebayor his first start in the premier league? The Togolese international is now match fit and scored for Togo during the international break sealing the West African nation’s entry into the African Cup of Nations finals in January.  Villas-Boas has proved he is not afraid to make big managerial decisions and expect him to make the surprise choice of starting with Adebayor.

Probable line-up

 

Prediction

League leaders Chelsea are on an excellent run of form winning 7 of their last 8 games in the premier league but they have a poor record at White Hart Lane, they have not won there in their last six Premier League visits while Spurs are flying and seeking to extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches in all competitions since an opening day defeat at Newcastle United in August. Villas-Boas will have prepared for this game like no other and the players will likely have picked up on the manager’s motivation for a win. Revenge and redemption for Villas-Boas 2-1 to Spurs!

COYS

Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )

In opposition corner this week is a top bloke new to the blogging world. In fact this is his debut and I am so pleased to have him first. So please give a warm welcome to Dale Marsh and his preview from the Chelsea side of things.

As it’s my first time writing a blog I thought I’d give a bit of a background to myself. As a young kid growing up in Huddersfield with my dad not into football at all I was lost! That was until a bigger boy from my street started supporting Arsenal, thankfully I wasn’t totally stupid and chose to support another London club, that club was Chelsea. My first Chelsea memories are of a team comprised of Ed de Hoey, Dan Petrescu, Dennis Wise, Ruud Gullit and Luca Vialli. But there was only one player that I was having on my shirt and that was Gianfranco Zola. The Italian maestro single handedly made me fall in love with a club I had merely liked before. The rest as they say is history. As a northern fan of Chelsea surrounded by Manchester United fans I found myself as a bit of a lone wolf in the playground. This also meant I didn’t grow up despising Spurs, only becoming aware of the rivalry as I got into my teens. I still find it amusing when stood in the away end at Wigan the Chelsea faithful still choose to sing about Spurs! Never the less I still hope we beat Tottenham this weekend and AVB does his hamstring whilst doing his squat thrusts in the technical area!

With the painfully long international break over, the joke of the San Marino game followed by the roof fiasco in Poland, which don’t even get me started on, fans are once again fully focussed on domestic affairs. A lot of neutral fans will have one eye on White Hart Lane on Saturday lunch time to assess how serious Chelsea and Spurs title challenges and credentials are.

As a Chelsea fan even I’m a little surprised at our rampant start to the season. With Roberto Di Matteo’s seemingly relaxed attitude to discipline and order Chelsea have only failed to win against rock bottom club and relegation favourites QPR. Torres enters the game showing glimmers of the form that persuaded Mr Abramovic to part with 2495560000 Roubles. With 4 goals in 7 in the league and 6 goals in 12 in all competitions this term, is he getting back to the player that terrified defences the world over between 2007 and 2010? Spanish national coach Vicente del Bosque clearly doesn’t think so with Torres only making a 16 minute cameo against France and not even making it off the bench vs Belarus.

New signings Edin Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses have settled well with Hazard proving to be the possible signing of the summer, it begs the question as to whether Fat Franks injury worries even matter anymore? A potential season of warming the bench looks likely for Chelsea’s number 8. If John Terry appeals his FA charge on Thursday he will no doubt receive a white hot reception from the Spurs fans, I for one hope he accepts the charge just so this sorry mess can come to an end. With Brazils 2nd best striker partnering Gary Cahill at the centre of defence I have faith they will do what’s needed to keep Defoe at bay. The only other absentees apart from possibly Terry is Lampard and Ryan Bertrand who both might not have recovered from injury and illness after pulling out of the England squad.

Spurs go into this fixture knowing a victory would give them their best ever start to a premier league season but of course the headlines before the game will be about PowerPoint world champion and former blues boss Andre Villas Boas coming up against his old club. A turbulent 8 month tenure was brought to an end by notorious axe man Mr Abramovic, the disjointed Chelsea team then famously went on to win the champions league and thus knocking Tottenham into the Europa league. Therefore the stakes couldn’t be higher for both the managers looking to prove a point. After a shaky start to the season in which Tottenham only had 2 points from 3 games I began to think history was repeating itself but AVB has proved his doubters wrong and along the way taking 3 points home from Old Trafford. At the start of last season I had high hopes for him and found myself making excuses as we let more points slip away but in the end I was glad to see him go.

Probable team line up

Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Romeu, Mata; Ramires, Hazard; Torres

Prediction

On the face of it I think both managers this weekend would happily take a point. Both teams are looking to keep their unbeaten run going and no one wants to lose. With last season’s result showing there was nothing between the teams, a 1-1 draw at WHL and 0-0 at the Bridge, I predict a tight cagey affair with not many goals. Chelsea will hope that new boy Hugo Lloris is not quite up to speed yet with the premier league and will hope to test him early and harass him at set pieces. A rested Juan Mata who failed to make the Spain squad will be looking to continue his good form and Jermain Defoe will hope his great start to the season will continue.

It will be a hard fought game where any mistake could make the difference. I for one am really looking forward to the game, even a nil nil would be better than watching England but I am going to go for a 2-1 win for the reigning European and F A Cup holders.

All the best and up the blues

Dale ( @dale431 on Twitter )

Many thanks to Kenny and especially Dale, as I have been trying to get him to do an article for a while now, for giving up their time. Much appreciated.

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