By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
Wembley Stadium/August 20, 2017
This fixture could not have come at a more inconvenient time than the present with all that is going on within and around the club. I’m sure the Tottenham players and fans will already be licking their lips in anticipation of what for them could be a straight forward three points considering the kind of crisis currently in our squad, forgetting they have problems of their own. I guess we will have to wait and see how the match plays out.
Were this taking place at Stamford Bridge and not Wembley then maybe we will be the ones licking our lips considering our long-standing unbeaten run against Spurs at Stamford Bridge. But after what happened on Saturday I doubt this is the season to rely too much on past records. Spurs have found the going tough against their neighbours from West London until recent year. As a matter of fact, the first time they recorded any kind of victory against Chelsea in the Premier League era was through that late Robbie Keane goal in November of the year 2006, in a match famous for that sumptuous Claude Makelele volley, and in all they have won just five times against Chelsea in the league in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017. What all those victories has in common is the fact that they all came at White Hart Lane, which fortunately for us is under construction for this season hence the match will be taking place at Wembley instead. In three of the five times we have lost to Spurs in the league we have gone on to win the league (2010, 2015, 2017). In the last ten years, we have only lost to Spurs four times (W8 D9) and we have won our last two encounters at Wembley 5-1 en route our FA Cup triumph in 2012 and 4-2 last season.
Antonio Conte will again be forced to reshuffle his team for the second week running following the red cards issued to both Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas against Burnley. Barring a new Premier League ready midfielder comes in between now and Sunday then Conte will have to draft one of his defenders to partner Kante, who’s the only fit CM available, in central midfield. Considering how early Jeremie Boga was substituted against Burnley last Saturday, I think it will be safe to say he might be sitting this one out, but Andrea Christensen on the other hand did enough during his ‘cameo’ to earn another run out against Spurs (aided by the red cards to both Cahill and Fabregas). Victor Moses should be well rested and raring to get his season started after being suspended for the season opener against the Clarets. I’m certain Morata will feel hard done by if he isn’t in the starting line-up on Sunday considering his contributions in the 35 minutes he was on the pitch on Saturday and majority of the Chelsea fan base will agree with him because he deserves to start against Spurs whether as the focal point of the attack or out wide as long as he’s in the team. Antonio Rudiger acquitted himself very well against Burnley and so should continue at the back (or midfield?). Willian began the Burnley game slowly but finished pretty strongly just like the team and we will be hoping for more of the same only he can do away with the sluggish start on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see if Conte thrusts Pedro right back into the fold or if he begins on the bench after his recent injury episode.
Last Five Matches: LDLWL
Injuries: Eden Hazard (Ankle) – Out; Timoue Bakayoko (Knee) – Out; Pedro (Ankle) –Doubt; Gary Cahill (Suspended)-Out; Cesc Fabregas (Suspended)-Out
It was a pretty straight forward victory for Spurs at St. James Park on Sunday helped in no small part by the stupidity of the Magpies’ captain, Jonjo Shelvy. They are yet to reinvest any of the £50m they got from Man City for Kyle Walker even though they are close to agreeing a deal with Ajax for their defender Sanchez. They have done well to keep most of their star performers from last season safe for Walker and we will be facing virtually the same team that we played against two times last season with the only exception being 20 year old Kyle Walker-Peters playing RB/RWB depending on the formation Pochettino decides to deploy. With the large size of the Wembley pitch making their high-pressing game almost impossible to achieve, he might likely be setting his team up in a 4-3-3 formation. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld looks set to continue their partnership in centre defense with Ben Davies and Walker-Peters occupying the full back positions. Victor Wanyama, Moussa Dembele and Christian Eriksen playing behind the front three of Dele Alli, Heung Son Min and Harry Kane.
Last 5 matches: WLLWW
Injuries: Kieran Trippier (Ankle) – Out; George N’ Koudou (Foot) –Out; Danny Rose (Knee) –Out; Erik Lamela (Hip) –Out
Cesar Azpilicueta vs. Heung-Son Min
Cesar Azpilicueta will surely have his work cut out for him with the Korean speedster. Heung Son Min was one of three Spurs players to score 20 or more goals last season and most of his goals came from either cutting in from the wings and unleashing his shot or ghosting in behind the Full Back/RWB into the box to score. Dave must keep a close eye on the Korean all game.
Michy Batshuayi/Alvaro Morata vs. Toby Alderweireld
I can’t say with any certainty who is going to be leading the attack between Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata but whoever is chosen will have to be at the top of his game to get the better of this tall and physical Belgian.
N’Golo Kante vs. Victor Wanyama
Victor Wanyama almost dominated our petite Frenchman in both our league matches against Spurs last season so I’m more than excited to see how Kante fairs against the mammoth ‘beast’ from Kenya. They both have different styles of play but ultimately they have the same objective for every game which is to try and keep the opposition as far away from their goal as possible. Who will take the day? Your guess is as good as mine.
Matt Law reported on yesterday that both Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko could befit enough to feature at Wembley on Sunday but as welcoming as that news is I don’t want to take it too seriously because of the weight of the disappointment it carries if it turns out to be false. The team can surely use the duo right now considering the state of the squad but as much as I would most definitely love to see them on the pitch, I hope we tread with caution as we wouldn’t want them to aggravate their injuries. If not this Sunday, I’m pretty sure they will be in line for a return to action against Everton next weekend. Whatever happens on Sunday, remember to Keep The Blue flag Flying High!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Indo Newyork
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