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Chelsea play host to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon needing to avoid defeat to remain in fourth place in the Premier League table.
Meanwhile, Spurs make the short trip to Stamford Bridge having put together a three-match winning streak in the top flight, leaving the club on the brink of moving ahead of their rivals.
When Chelsea picked up 10 points from five Premier League fixtures either side of the turn of the year, it appeared likely that Frank Lampard and his side would continue on an upward trajectory during the second half of the campaign.
However, after four matches without success, the Blues find themselves at risk of losing fourth spot, while there is only a five-point gap between the West Londoners and ninth-placed Everton.
The gradually decreasing margin for error means that the pressure is now on Lampard, who will also have one eye on the upcoming Champions League double-header with Bayern Munich.
As he has already acknowledged, Lampard again had to point to Chelsea’s failure to take their chances against Manchester United on Monday night – a game where his team were arguably on the wrong end of several refereeing and VAR decisions.
Nevertheless, Michy Batshuayi was unable to take his opportunity in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham, who Lampard will be hoping is ready to return from an ankle injury this weekend.
Nevertheless, Chelsea also have significant problems at the other end of the pitch, with seven goals being conceded in their last four top-flight contests, including two from set pieces.
Shipping goals from dead-ball situations hurt Lampard and his team earlier in the campaign, and there are signs that the indecisiveness which plagued them during the early months have returned.
Keeping just one clean sheet in eight league matches leaves Lampard to contemplate reverting to a back three – a strategy which proved to be successful against Spurs two months ago.
That said, the element of surprise has disappeared regarding Lampard’s traits as a manager, putting the Englishman in a position where he must evolve if he wishes to have the longevity of his opposite number and former mentor.
Tottenham Hotspur FC
Jose Mourinho has been left delighted with the recent performances of his team, who have collected 10 points from their most recent four matches in the Premier League.
However, Son Heung-min’s broken arm has the potential to derail Spurs’ efforts in their two priority competitions, especially with Harry Kane still two months away from a return.
With a gap of under 65 hours between Wednesday’s defeat to RB Leipzig and Saturday’s encounter, Mourinho has been quick to allude to the short turnaround at a time when some of his star men are short of fitness.
That will undoubtedly play a part when it comes to Mourinho’s team selection at the weekend, with any player who did not complete the 90 minutes likely to feature in the Portuguese’s starting lineup.
Dele Alli was not shy in expressing his frustration when being hauled off against Leipzig, but the playmaker may have been substituted with Mourinho open to using the England international as his frontline striker at Stamford Bridge.
Thoughts over a drastic switch of position for Alli will have made been easier by Spurs’ struggles in the final third against Leipzig, a team who may have taken tips from how Chelsea defeated Spurs on away territory in December.
As well as an excellent showing from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, the main plus point from Wednesday night was the performance of Gedson Fernandes, who acted as a necessary link between a defence constantly on the back foot and a makeshift attack.
Whether the 21-year-old will be deemed ready for his first Premier League start this weekend remains to be seen, but Spurs fans will be encouraged by the Benfica loanee’s display on the European stage.
CHE VS TOT: Match timing and details
The game will be played on 22nd February 2020 at 06:00 PM. The venue is Stamford Bridge, the home stadium of Chelsea. The live scores and scoreboard details will be available on the official websites.
CHE VS TOT: Recent form
CHE VS TOT: Head-to-head
Saturday’s fixture will represent the 166th competitive game between the two clubs, with Chelsea registering 71 wins in comparison to 54 victories for Spurs.
The Blues have won the last three head-to-heads, the latest coming at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December.
However, Spurs had prevailed in four of the half-a-dozen games preceding that run, while it has been 10 meetings since a draw was recorded between the sides.
CHE VS TOT: Predicted starting lineup
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Zouma, Rudiger, Tomori; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Willian, Mount, Abraham
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Tanganga; Dier, Ndombele; Fernandes, Lo Celso, Bergwijn; Alli
CHE VS TOT: Best players
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud
The absence of Tammy Abraham opened the door for Michy Batshuayi to start against Man Utd earlier in the week, but he couldn’t quite repay his manager’s faith and would be subbed off for Olivier Giroud. The French striker could subsequently be given the nod when Spurs visit the Bridge on matchday 27. Given his lack of playing time, Giroud, who is well-known to Spurs, will be looking to register a first league goal this season if selected.
Key stat: Olivier Giroud has gone 309 minutes since registering his last Premier League goal.
Spurs: Dele Alli
The loss of Son after his heroics at Aston Villa last weekend has come as a blow to Spurs, who are looking for a temporary centre-forward. Lucas Moura is an option but so is Dele Alli, who can play as a deep-lying forward, a position that he isn’t necessarily versed in, but it hasn’t stopped Jose Mourinho from throwing a tactical bomb in the past. Regardless of where he plays, Alli, given he’s now Spurs’ biggest scoring threat, will be the one to keep an eye on.
Key stat: Dele Alli has scored five goals in six league meetings against Chelsea.
CHE VS TOT: Predicted Dream11 Team
G Lo Celso
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