Three key battles to watch out for in Tottenham vs Chelsea
Tottenham face arch-rivals, Chelsea, where more than just pride is at stake. The two teams are currently separated by one point as they vie for the crucial fourth spot.
Although there are 11 more games to go after this matchup, one can’t help but wonder the significance a winner can have here in the race for Champions League qualification.
The game will also mark the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese is Chelsea’s most successful manager and his arrival at Tottenham was a bitter pill for many Blues to take.
He will also come up against his former player Frank Lampard in what will be their third meeting as managers. Lampard has won both the previous engagements including the 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture in December. The game presents not only the option for Mourinho to get back at the defeat but also leapfrog his former club into fourth place.
Both sides will be without their most influential players, with both N’Golo Kante and Harry Kane out injured. With injuries plaguing both sides, we take a look at some of the individual battles that are likely to decide the game.
Steven Bergwijn vs Reece James
Steven Bergwijn has started life well at Tottenham. He scored on his debut and won the penalty in his second appearance as Spurs won both games. He found the going tough against Leipzig but there is no faulting his energy or commitment.
In the absence of Son Heing-Min, he will have to take the mantle of responsibility as one of Tottenham’s primary attackers. Jose Mourinho will depend on the Dutchman and Giovani Lo Celso to provide the attacking impetus in the lack of their talismanic South Korean.
Against Chelsea, Bergwijn will come up against the exciting Reece James. The 20-year-old full-back is enjoying a breakout season under Lampard and has established himself as the primary Chelsea right-back. An energetic player, his clash against Bergwijn should prove to be an enthralling contest. This matchup will bring together two players who are good on the ball and have the physical strength to hold onto it.
Bergwijn is vastly experienced in comparison and will need to get the upper hand over James to give Spurs the edge in attack. The return of Ben Davies will also be a major boost to the Dutchman. An excellent defender, he is capable of handling Reese James on his own, which will reduce the burden on Bergwijn’s shoulders to trackback.
Willian vs Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier is an enigmatic defender, who is excellent going forward but not defensively too sound. The Ivorian right-back is not particularly disciplined in his position, often bombing forward and leaving space behind him.
Willian is a wily attacker with years of experience. He can prove to be a gamechanger for Chelsea if he keeps moving into the spaces. Aurier’s natural instinct is to bomb ahead and it will be hard to curtail it throughout the 90 minutes.
Tottenham will not have forgotten the damage the Brazilian can do. The 31-year-old played a starring role in the reverse fixture, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory. Another factor is fatigue, having played a high octane game midweek, Aurier is likely to have lesser reserves of energy compared to the Brazilian.
Jose Mourinho vs Frank Lampard
With injuries plaguing both sides, the winner will be the one who makes the best use of their stretched resources. A master of mind games, Mourinho will be tested in his return to Stamford Bridge. Always cast as the pantomime villain, the Portuguese returns to the place where he achieved so much success over the years.
Frank Lampard has come up trumps on both the previous clashes including the 2-0 humbling at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December. That loss left a six-point gap between the sides as Lampard strengthened his grip on the fourth spot.
Chelsea have had a spate of bad results and have won just one of their last seven Premier League game. A victory for Tottenham will see us replace the Blues in the fourth spot, the significance of that will not be lost on Mourinho, who should be up for it.
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With bragging rights and a Champions League position at stake, there is a lot for Mourinho to be had if his side is to prevail.