Conte to test Pochettino’s tactical know-how in pivotal London derby
The two sides with the best Premier League defensive records meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and it promises to be a fascinating tactical battle.
Chelsea go into the encounter in outstanding form, having secured six straight victories to propel themselves to the top of the table.
Tottenham Hotspur are still handily placed in the title race but will have to shake off their Champions League hangover, after suffering defeat in Monaco Tuesday evening which saw their interest in that competition evaporate.
The points were shared on the two occasions these sides met last season.
Goal projections – Chelsea 1.80 Spurs 0.98
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Team news & predicted line-ups for Chelsea v Spurs
Antonio Conte has named an unchanged side for the last 5 Premier League matches, as the Blues stretched their winning sequence to 6 without conceding a goal since the 3-4-3 formation was introduced.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has much more to contemplate following Spurs’ Champions League exit and he will be without a number of key players, with Danny Rose suspended and others ruled out through injury, ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fantasy player to watch
Victor Moses seems to be have been around for ages but he is still only 25 years old. The Nigerian international had spells at Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic before signing for Chelsea in 2012 and manager Conte is mystified as to why he was never given more game time at the Bridge.
Loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham followed but Moses is now back at Chelsea, reveling in his new role.
Jan Vertonghen is expected to deputise at left-back and his ability to handle both Moses and Pedro down that flank could determine how the spoils are split.
Chelsea team news
Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel are closing in on a first team return but John Terry and John Obi Mikel will not be available for the game with Spurs.
However, the Italian is expected to keep the same line-up that triumphed at Middlesbrough.
Predicted starting line-up for Chelsea
Spurs fantasy player to watch
Hugo Lloris was magnificent in Monaco, producing a string of fine saves that earned him a WhoScored rating of 8.87 and included a penalty save from Radamel Falcao. Unfortunately, for the French goalkeeper, it wasn’t enough to prevent Spurs from crashing out of the competition but he might need to produce a similar display at the Bridge on Saturday, if the visitors are to come away with something.
Spurs team news
This game is expected to come too soon for Argentinian winger Erik Lamela, while Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld are both ruled out adding to Pochettino’s defensive conundrum with Rose suspended.
The Spurs’ boss will need to get his tactics spot-on if he is to prevent Chelsea from making it 7 wins on the spin.
Predicted line-up for Spurs
Will defences rule at the Bridge or can either side claim all 3 points to signal that they mean serious business in the title race?