|Drogba scoring the third for Chelsea against Tottenham earlier in the season.|
What a pivotal weekend in the Premier League title race. Not just with respect to the title race, but also for the final Champions League place on for offer. Chelsea play the first of their so called tough away fixtures this weekend against Tottenham who come on the back of a fine midweek performance against Arsenal. It is one of the toughest grounds for away teams to score this season. Manchester united have been the only side to score more than two goals at White Hart Lane this season. Chelsea’s record for the past few years over there is also poor as we have not won there for the past 3 seasons. That includes the 2-1 defeat to Mourinho’s Chelsea, an epic 4-4 draw with Avram Grant’s side and a 1-0 defeat to Guus Hiddink’s side. All these results have come back to haunt us in the title race at the end. So it is mighty important that we turn the tide this season.
Chelsea also have plenty of reasons for being confident. Even though we have not won there for three years running, we did trash them 3-0 earlier in the season. Good news regarding the injury front is that Ashley Cole has been in full training this week and is likely to be on the bench. Although the form of Zhirkov means
that we don’t really miss him. Ancelotti has all but confirmed that Joe Cole, Malouda and Deco will start. The atmosphere was brilliant against Arsenal and I expect no less. Hence it is important that Chelsea quieten the crowd first and foremost and then start playing our game. It is essential for that reason that we don’t concede early. That is what we did last season at White Hart Lane and also what Arsenal did midweek.
Tottenham will go into the match full of confidence after their fantastic victory over Arsenal midweek. This is what manager Harry Redknapp had to say after their victory over Arsenal,
“It gives us a big lift for Chelsea, which will be another difficult game but on the back of this but we will go into it in great confidence”
Harry Redknapp has done wonders with this team which was going nowhere after Martin Jol’s reign ended. For Tottenham to be still competing for a Champion’s league place at this stage of the season tells you about the quality of the squad. But that said it has to do more with Liverpool’s failure than Tottenham’s brilliance. Ancelotti has been talking about how he expects Tottenham to play with the same tempo as they did against Arsenal. But you really have to wonder if they can sustain that kind of tempo after playing two matches in quick succession with one going into extra time.
|Ashley Cole returns to the squad after two months.|
Tottenham have Ledley king back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines although Wilson Palacios is suspended. Niko Kranjcar is ruled out for the rest of the season. Manchester united play Manchester city in the earlier kick-off and if everything works in favour of Chelsea then it could go a long way into deciding the title without Chelsea even kicking the ball. It is just a case of matching what Manchester United do in their games.
The remaining fixtures for Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal stand as follows.
|Tottenham (A)||Manchester City (A)||Wigan (A)|
|Stoke (H)||Tottenham (H)||Manchester City (H)|
|Liverpool (A)||Sunderland (A)||Blackburn (A)|
|Wigan (H)||Stoke (H)||Fulham (H)|
My Prediction: Chelsea to win 1-0
Tottenham (4-4-2): Gomes, Kaboul, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Modric, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe.
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech, Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Zhirkov, Deco, Mikel, Lampard, Malouda, Joe Cole, Drogba.
The last few weeks have been fantastic for Chelsea. Will it continue?