Date: Sunday 23rd January 2022
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
If I felt a bit flat before the Brighton game, I was bloody horizontal after it.
Even once we had our noses in front, we didn’t ever look as up for it as the well-drilled, disciplined Brighton, so inevitably, after jangling our nerves repeatedly, their persistence paid off on the hour. Ziyech looked more up for the ongoing row with Lukaku (what is that all about?) than he did for celebrating his goal and Tuchel was right, the players did look tired which begs the question why he persists in late substitutions that don’t have the time to fully impact a game that’s already got away from us.
We were mediocre at best, and it all feels a bit déjà vu, because we’ve been here before, right? New manager comes in, new manager does well, new manager applauded, and then at this junction, we turn off instead of going straight ahead. If we could just be a little less predictable, maybe play a bit better and give the media less grenades to lob at our managers, it would do wonders for the blood pressure.
Speaking of which, Chelsea have won just one of their last seven in the Premier League, picking up a lowly three points from their last four games and coming into today’s game against Spurs off the back of that really disappointing draw Tuesday night. That decline in form has left us 12 points behind Man City, who have a game in hand, and we’re far from comfortable in third place.
Whilst Tottenham might be eight points behind us, they have 4 games in hand because, as we know, some clubs have managed to get a few breaks in this season to rest-up whilst others have slogged their guts out through covid, injuries and rammed schedules. The visitors have won three out of their last four and are yet to lose a game in the league under Antonio Conte, so come into today’s game in better form than us.
Of course, we’ve won our last four against them, including two wins this month in the Carabao Cup, but we shouldn’t let that lull us into any sense of security today. I watched their battle back from 2-1 against Leicester on Wednesday and whilst Leicester were guilty defensively, make no mistake, that was trademark Conte (first season Conte anyway), demanding a ‘never know when you’re beat’ attitude. Meanwhile, we’ve developed an uncomfortable habit of dropping points from winning positions.
Doesn’t bode well.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel says “It’s a big game. Of course we can do our mathematics and it’s strange to look at the fixtures and see teams competing for the same area of the table and having four games less. So this can lead you to a wrong impression that you are comfortably ahead, which you are not. So we have to make sure that this stays like this and the best chance is to win against direct opponents. It’s a London derby, it’s a big rivalry. We know this and we play them now three times, it’s the third time in a very short period of time, so I think they know what we do, we know what they do and things are clear. We managed to beat them twice and we will do everything to beat them a third time.
The last results in the last games it was like this and we have to make sure that it is a third time again like this. We play now three matches in such a short time, which is pretty unusual normally, and that’s why I think more or less they know what we do and we know what they do and it’s on us again to show up in games like this. They come from a late victory that gives them a boost, we come from two wins in the Carabao Cup which should give us some confidence when we play the match. It’s not about having whatever advantages and being philosophical about it. It’s about delivering and we have to be in the right mood with the right attitude to deliver a top performance.”
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, meanwhile, says “At the end of the games against Watford and Leicester we created many chances to score and then also if the winner arrived at the end it doesn’t mean we didn’t deserve it. But then for sure we have to continue in this way because in these two last games we showed a great resilience, great will, a great desire to fight until the end, to believe you can win until the end and this is very important for the mentality, for the belief of the players, for what we are doing in this period, for the work we are doing together. For this reason I’m very happy. I’m very happy because don’t forget you can win or lose at the end of the game. You must be very good to believe and I’ve seen this in my players. In the last game against Leicester, my players weren’t satisfied about the draw, they wanted to play very quickly with only one minute to go. It was important for me, it was important for the fans, it was important for the club, to see this desire of the players to want to win until the end. For this reason they deserve a great compliment for this win.
We know very well that we are going to play against a really strong team. Don’t forget Chelsea won the Champions League, now they’re in the final of the Carabao Cup, so we’re talking about a really good team. I don’t know if this is the right moment. We have our problems with many injuries but for sure we want to try to give our best against Chelsea. They have beaten us in the last two games and we have to try to learn something about the past to try to improve to try and give our best.”
For Chelsea, Trevoh Chalobah has returned to training but is not ready for a return today. Reece James (hamstring) is also on the road to recovery but is a little way off a return. Ben Chilwell (knee) remains out long term and Andreas Christensen (covid) remains out. Edouard Mendy remains on international duty with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.
For Tottenham, Son Heung-min and Cristian Romero are likely to return after the international break, whilst Eric Dier (muscular) is available again.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Lukaku, Werner
TOTTENHAM (Possible line-up): Lloris; Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Skipp, Winks, Hojbjerg, Reguilon; Kane, Lucas
CURRENT FORM (PL)
Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham (29th November 2020)
- Tottenham have won only seven of their 59 games against Chelsea in the Premier League.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six league games against Tottenham.
- Chelsea have kept clean sheets in their last five games against Tottenham.
- Tottenham have won just one of their last 36 away games in all competitions against Chelsea.
- Chelsea have dropped points in nine of their past 13 league games.
- Tottenham are unbeaten in all nine of their Premier League fixtures under Antonio Conte.
- Chelsea have won just one of their last seven Premier League matches.
- Tottenham have failed to win any of their past 13 away league games against sides starting the day in the top four.
- Chelsea have lost just two of their last 26 fixtures in all competitions.
- Chelsea are without a win in their last four Premier League games.
- Chelsea have dropped 13 points from a winning position this season.
- Tottenham have scored back-to-back 90th-minute winners in the Premier League
- Chelsea have kept only two clean sheets in 13 league games.
BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham