Tottenham and Chelsea aim for Champions League and catching up with Arsenal

Juan Mata

Tottenham v Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea
White Hart Lane, north London
Saturday, 28 September 2013
12.45 GMT

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London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea go head-to-head on Saturday at White Hart Lane, with both sides eager to get an early season advantage over their local rivals. Traditionally the visitors have something of a hex over the hosts, in what is usually a hard-fought encounter.

Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho’s reunion will add spice to this derby fixture, while the inclusion of Willian, who chose to sign for Chelsea over Tottenham this summer, could be another interesting subplot.

Tottenham preview

It is a new-look Tottenham side that fights for a top-four place this season, with Gareth Bale’s world record fee departure being offset by the acquisition of seven international new faces.

Spurs have started the new campaign strongly, winning four out of their first five Premier League games, with a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal the only blot on the copybook so far. Olivier Giroud’s effort at the Emirates Stadium is the only goal the side have conceded to date, and Andre Villas-Boas’ men have also recorded comprehensive victories in the Capital One Cup and Europa League.

With Tottenham being spoken of as contenders for honours this term, the hosts need a positive result to justify the hype. In all likelihood the overall goal is a top-four finish rather than a title challenge, and victory here would show that Spurs are serious about Champions League qualification. Spurs are priced at 9/5 to get the three points.

Injuries and Suspensions

Andre Villas-Boas has a few selection headaches due to in-form players across the pitch, and has virtually a full contingent to pick from.

Etienne Capoue is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the north London derby, while Younes Kaboul’s match fitness is also in question. Even if both were fit, they would probably have started from the bench anyway.

Chelsea Preview

Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge has been slightly underwhelming to date, with Chelsea failing to hit top gear in the early days of the new season.

The west London club got back to winning ways in the Capital One Cup against Swindon in midweek, after losing in the Premier League at Everton and unexpectedly at home to Basel in the Champions League.

Mourinho has openly admitted that he is unsure of his best starting XI as yet, due to the plethora of options available to him in a star-studded squad. As such, his selection for this game will be intriguing.

Injuries and Suspensions

Midweek injuries took the sheen off Chelsea’s win over Swindon in the Capital One Cup. Summer signing Marco van Ginkel’s season is over before it has begun, after the Dutch midfielder suffered cruciate ligament damage in the clash.

Ramires replaced the former Vitesse Arnhem man in the game against Swindon, but also had to be removed at half-time with a hip/muscular concern. As such, Mourinho may consider playing David Luiz further forward in a central midfield role.

Tottenham v Chelsea Stats

Tottenham sit joint top of the Premier League table with four wins from five games, 12 points and a positive goal difference of +4. Andre Villas-Boas’ men have scored five goals so far this term, and only conceded one.

Chelsea have won three games, drawn one and lost one so far in their Premier League campaign, and sit in fourth place ahead of the game with ten points and a goal difference of +4. The visitors have scored 6 goals and conceded 2.

Head 2 Head: Chelsea have something of a hex over Tottenham and have beaten their London rivals in four of the last ten meetings between the sides.

Last season Chelsea came back from behind to beat Tottenham 4-2 at White Hart Lane, with Juan Mata the chief protagonist in his side’s win. Whether the diminutive Spaniard is given a chance to shine once more here remains to be seen. Spoils were shared in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture, with Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson on target for Tottenham.

Tottenham vs Chelsea Prediction

Tottenham will look to come out of the blocks quickly in the encounter, and expect it to be a blood and thunder affair in the early exchanges. The midfield battle could play a key part in the outcome of the game, as the likes of Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen look to get hold of proceedings in Ramires’ potential absence.

The Blues will look to break Spurs’ miserly record of conceding goals so far this term, and with the attacking talent in their line-up expect Hugo Lloris’ net to be breached.

Spurs have plenty of offensive pedigree themselves and should put the visitors’ rearguard under pressure for concerted periods also. Roberto Soldado is still looking for his first goal in open play – the Spaniard is 7/4 with William Hill to get a goal in this one.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea.
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