Lilywhites & Blues clash in Saturday cracker
Travelling to Tottenham on Saturday presents Chelsea a chance to take a win away from both a manager they acrimoniously cut ties with earlier in the year, and the stadium they used to call so wittily Three Point Lane.
Now, Spurs and Luis Andre de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas, or AVB to his pals, present a real and present threat to the Blues, and taking any points away from White Hart Lane has been quite a task since 2007, with the Lilywhite only giving up 7 out of a possible 60 points to any London opponent at the Lane.
Of course, during that time, these two teams have fought intense and gripping battles, often laden with controversy, and after the confirmation of a domestic four game ban, headlines will doubtless be filled with stories of John Terry leading into the Saturday afternoon clash. Without his stewardship at the back, Gary Cahill and David Luiz are likely to start at the centre of defence, both of whom possess great talents at each end of the park. Yet to concede a second half goal in Premier League football this season, Chelsea will rely on the vast experience across their back four to maintain that record (23/20 that Chelsea to keep 2nd half clean sheet), although the consummate balance of pace and talent possessed by a deep Spurs midfield may cause di Matteo's side nightmares.
That midfield, consisting of former Fulham duo Clint Demsey and Moussa Dembele has impressed during Tottenham's scintillating recent run of six unbeaten in the League, including a landmark 3-2 victory at Old Trafford. The pre-emptive shouts of ‘crisis' by certain journalists now look moronic, and under the guidance of Villas-Boas, Spurs look to be building a fantastic team, emphasised by some world class talents, topped by Welsh winger Gareth Bale, who, after a mesmerising performance for his country last week, will look to be the difference between the sides (10/1 that Gareth Bale scores 2 or more).Bale has a strong record against Chelsea, having tormented them at White Hart Lane on each of the past three occasions the clubs have met, and is currently priced at 5/1 to score in a Spurs win (enhanced from 7/2).
Of course, Chelsea boast some of the world's best in an equally impressive midfield, and in the two most prolific chance creators in the league, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata combine for 8 assists so far, and also present a constant goal threat. The Belgian sensation is also the holder of another Premier League record this year, having been fouled 21 times, more than any other player in the league, whilst Mata was at the centre of controversy the last time this pair met.
In last season's FA Cup, Spurs and Chelsea played out a thriller at Wembley in a rip-roaring semi final, and after a contentious goal was handed to the west Londoners, Spurs seemed to deflate, eventually finishing on the wrong end of a 5-1 drubbing (150/1 that Chelsea win 5-1). With five goals so far this campaign, much derided striker Fernando Torres has flown somewhat under the radar, but is the centre of William Hill's Chelsea enhancement for this tasty London derby, priced at 4/1 to score in a Blues win (enhanced from 10/3).
With coverage live on Sky Sports 2 from 12:00 (k/o at 12:45), this is one of the games of the European football weekend, is one not to be missed!