Thursday 1st January – 17:30 – White Hart Lane
Chelsea will hope to start 2015 by getting back to winning ways in their London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day The Premier League leaders were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, meaning that they have now won just one of their last four top-flight matches on the road. And they will be facing a Tottenham side that have not lost in the league since going down 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the corresponding fixture at the start of the month. Mauricio Pochettino’s side drew 0-0 to Manchester United in their last game of 2014, and are full of confidence. But Chelsea are their bogey team, and haven’t beaten them in their last 10 meetings with the Blues. This is the third Premier League game in a week, so rotation is expected, but both sides are in action in the FA Cup 3rd round at the weekend, so reserve players could get their chance then. Spurs visit Burnley, whilst Chelsea play host to Watford.
The Key Battle: Federico Fazio & Jan Vertonghen vs Diego Costa
When facing a Manchester United side containing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Falcao and Robin van Persie, it’s no mean feat keeping a clean sheet, but the Spurs defence managed to do just that on Sunday.
At the heart of the back four are Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen, who played together for the 15th time this season for the visit of the Red Devils.
Neither were regular starters at the beginning of the campaign, but since the start of December they have formed a strong partnership, with Spurs having lost just once when the pair have played together – albeit against Chelsea.
Diego Costa wasn’t fit for that reverse fixture, with Loic Remy and Didier Drogba getting on the scoresheet in his place.
But the Spanish international will be looking to start 2015 the way he has ended 2014, with two goals in his last two games following a drought.
His superb start to the season though means he is only behind Sergio Aguero in the goalscoring charts, so he should certainly be feared by Fazio and Vertonghen.
- Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is expected to make changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Manchester United.
- He made four changes following the Leicester win for the Manchester United draw and can be expected to make a similar number of switches.
- Danny Rose, Erik Lamela, Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker could be restored to the starting line-up, whilst Nabil Bentaleb is suffering with from illness.
- Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is also likely to rotate his squad after their draw with Southampton.
- Filipe Luis, John Obi Mikel and Andre Schurrle could be replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta, Oscar and Willian, who were all dropped for the trip to Southampton.
- The Blues could keep changes to a minimum though, with Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie with Watford a more likely opportunity to rotate front-line players out of the starting XI.
Chelsea wins = 61 / Tottenham wins = 45 / Draws = 36
Last Meeting: Chelsea 3-0 Tottenham (3rd December 2014)
Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea to a win over Tottenham to maintain the Blues’ six-point lead at the top of the table. Tottenham missed two good chances early on – Harry Kane hitting the bar then dragging a shot wide – and Chelsea went ahead when Eden Hazard finished sweetly following a one-two with Drogba. The striker, who replaced the suspended Diego Costa, then netted with a low shot following a Hugo Lloris mistake. Substitute Loic Remy then completed the win with a smart finish from 12 yards.
Stat of the Match
Chelsea have won 25 Premier League matches against Spurs – only Manchester United, with 29 wins, have a better record.
Where can I watch it?
It seems like a while since I’ve said this, but BT Sport 1 will be showing the game live from 5:15 pm, 15 minutes before kick-off. The highlights will then be shown on BBC One’s Match of the Day at 10:35 pm.
My Prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea
It’s been a tough run of fixtures for Chelsea, but they have proved them selves as strong title contenders and may just scrape a win at White Hart Lane. Spurs have improved since the reverse fixture, so won’t concede as many, and could also get on the scoresheet, with Harry Kane on good form. The young striker will score for the hosts, but it won’t be enough as Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic will win the game for the Blues.