The Premier League returns after the recent international break with a high profile London derby between Spurs and Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Date: Saturday, 20 October 2012
Kick-off: 12:45 BST
Stadium: White Hart Lane, London
Referee: Mike Dean
Tottenham and Chelsea meet in another London Derby. While not necessarily a ‘classic’ in a broad historical sense (as is surely the case with local rivals, Arsenal), the fixture has undoubtedly situated itself as a key clash in recent years. Tottenham, for their part, have only won 3 of 40 matches with Chelsea since the 1992-1993 season.
Both teams head into the match in largely good form. Spurs have won their last four league matches, highlighted by a brilliant victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The only blip on their radar comes as a result of their listless Europa League form which has seen them draw both matches in the group stages so far.
Chelsea have been in excellent form lately. They are off to one of the brightest Premier League starts ever, having not lost any game so far this season. Their only significant defeat of any kind came at the hands of a rampant Atlético Madrid in the European Super Cup, where they were beaten 4-1.
Both Spurs and Chelsea return from the recent international break largely healed and rested, although no doubt with key absences to deal with.
Still without mainstays Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Younes Kaboul and Scott Parker, all suffering from long-term injury, Tottenham witness the much needed return of versatile full-back Kyle Naughton and energetic midfielder Jake Livermore. Influential newcomer Moussa Dembélé is questionable after picking up a slight hip injury during recent international duty with the Belgian national team.
Chelsea come into this game largely intact, witnessing the return of Frank Lampard, whom needs no introduction here, along with young talents Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand. A definite absence will be felt in the form of captain John Terry, whom will begin the first of a four-game suspension incurred for racially abusing Queen’s Park Ranger’s defender Anton Ferdinand.
- Chelsea have failed to win in their last six Premier League visits to White Hart Lane since a 2-0 victory in August 2005 with goals from Asier Del Horno and Damien Duff.
- Tottenham haven’t lost a London derby at White Hart Lane in the Premier League since September 2007 (W13 D7 L0) when they lost 1-3 to Arsenal.
- Victory for Tottenham would be their 50th over Chelsea in all competitions. Chelsea have 61 wins.
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- Tottenham are unbeaten at home in all competitions this season,
- Tottenham have a goal differential of +24 at home while Chelsea are merely +4 on the road, albeit still a good indicator of strong performance away from home,
- The last time Chelsea lost away was against Liverpool, 1-4. In fact, both of Chelsea’s most recent losses have come by that same scoreline.
- Tottenham have averaged 1.83 goals per game in their last six home games while Chelsea have averaged one goal per game in their last six away matches.
- Looking at the stats, Spurs appear to be the more consistent and predictable side at home with only mild deviation in their range of results whilst Chelsea have displayed more unpredictability away from home as evidenced by the greater amount of deviation. I think it’s safe to say that Tottenham will come out resolute and focused, steady but unspectacular, whilst Chelsea look more likely to leave it to fate on the day, one way or the other.
- The good news for the neutral is that odds are one for at least one goal in the match. Past history seems to suggest that the neutral won’t be treated to any fireworks though, with probability indicating that the final scoreline should stay between one to four goals in total.
- Spurs have scored at least one goal in each of their twenty previous home games.
- If Spurs score at least two goals, they stand an 83% chance of winning the match.
- If Chelsea can hold a clean sheet, they should stand at least a 20% chance of winning the match outright.
- Chelsea haven’t scored more than two goals in any away match in the league this season.
- All of Chelseas top scorers against Tottenham in recent times should be on the team sheet for this game.
- The odds are against Tottenham’s top two strike threats, Adebayor and Defoe, seeing time on the pitch together.
- Adebayor and Bale, if starting, are equally likely to notch the first goal for Tottenham.
- Lampard is most likely to score away from home for Chelsea. Does anyone want to place a bet on a penalty kick now? I would.
Total Tottenham prediction
This is a tough game to call. Though the stats tell me that Tottenham is stronger at home than Chelsea is away, my analytical side also tells me that these stats don’t take into account the massive improvement that has been made to the Chelsea squad over the summer break. On a pure talent level, I’d put the full squads on about equal footing, with perhaps Chelsea getting the slight nod due to their star-studded line-up with the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, the young Brazilian Oscar and Fernando Torres, who appears to finally have shaken the boogeyman that starkly arrested his goal scoring form a season and a half ago.
The key to Tottenham’s attack to me will depend on what kind of form Moussa Dembélé is in on the day. I wouldn’t normally doubt his good form except for the minor injury sustained in the course of international duty. If his mobility is hampered at all, it could lead to a breakdown of Tottenham’s attack through the middle. He will be paramount to Tottenham’s efforts to hold possession in the middle of the park.
One area in which Tottenham may find themselves at an unfamiliar advantage is in the air, where John Terry has been dominant in recent encounters between the two clubs. Lacking his presence, I can see the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Steven Caulker causing havoc in the box during set-piece situations. Aaron Lennon too has had uncanny success against Ashley Cole, who is rumored to be on his way out of Stamford Bridge despite his typical good form.
If Tottenham fail to close down the gap between defense and midfield, I can see Chelsea’s midfield making a meal out of the opportunity. Sandro and Dembélé will have to be resolute in forcing attackers towards the outside where the pace and positioning of Vertonghen and Kyle Walker should be more able to deal with the speed and agility of Chelsea’s attack than the aging Gallas and hulking Caulker.
Tottenham do have selection headaches to attend to with Adebayor returning to offer AVB the option of using him in attack over Jermain Defoe, whom has had a good, if not slightly fortunate, start to the Premier League this season. Whispers are swirling about that Villas-Boas is set to hand a surprise start to Brad Friedel after ending his incredible streak of consecutive starts against Aston Villa the past matchday. My personal hunch is that AVB will stick with Lloris going forward, on a permanent basis.
With the teams so evenly matched, I believe it will stay and remain close throughout, with neither team likely to take a commanding lead at any time during the match. If either manager makes any changes that result in a reduced mentality on the day, I can see it being the difference in such a closely contested affair.
Final score: 2-1 Tottenham over Chelsea. The student has not yet passed the master as AVB narrowly outclasses Roberto Di Matteo on his continued march up the table. For Chelsea, it will only be a minor setback as it is merely a blip of a tough away match in what has been a stellar opening to the season for them.
25′: Caulker to open the scoring in the 25th minute with a header at the back post.
46′: Lampard to score a penalty in the 46th minute.
67′: Bale to score on a solo run from midfield in the 67th minute to take the final lead with extraordinarily tense moments to follow up to the whistle.