A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s away match against arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
As we return from the final international break of 2018, Maurizio Sarri takes his Chelsea side to the national stadium for their London derby clash against Tottenham Hotspur. In a mouth watering tie that has such intense rivalry between the 2 sets of fans, there is more than just 3 points up for grabs.
Chelsea have had an impressive start under their new manager, but Spurs are only a point behind them in the league. So the hosts have an extra incentive, in that victory would ensure they go above The Blues into third place. A repeat of last season’s performance from the visitors would mean that Maurizio Sarri will have broken the record for the longest unbeaten spell at the start of their English top flight managerial career.
But a match that has so much at stake both on and off the pitch, could be decided by how fit and healthy each squad is after their international exploits. All the European players were involved in their country’s final matches of UEFA’s new competition. The Nations League has proved to be an instant success and most of the matches last weekend were full of emotion and effort.
Chelsea should have midfielder Mateo Kovacic available, despite missing Croatia’s defeat by England on Sunday because of an ankle problem. Sarri also has a number of undisclosed injury doubts and will need to pick his side carefully.
Mauricio Pochettino also has a number of availability issues. Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez, Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele are ruled out, but both Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen may return from injuries.
But add to this the available players who have gave everything physically and emotionally for their countries and the latter stages of the match could be dominated by the side who has the greater resolve.
Spurs have won their last 4 matches and have won their last 6 Premier League London derbies. However, they have not played a home league match since being beaten by Manchester City on 29 October.
Chelsea have been imperious on their travels in the Premier League this season. 4 clean sheets in 5 away matches this term, with Joselu’s strike at St James’s Park being the only goal they have conceded. Whilst they are breaking all Premier League passing records, they are controlling long periods of their matches and stifling their opponents possession, they will be determined to keep this run going, especially at Wembley against Spurs.
Maurizio Sarri has come through his early days as Chelsea’s new manager with flying colours, but on Saturday he will need to understand golden rule. You must not lose to Tottenham.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue