Saturday 26th November 17.30
This is the pick of the weekend but that’s not to say it will be as great as will be billed by satellite broadcasters. It’s certainly true that Chelsea have only won in the league since the first day of October and they welcome a Spurs side who have yet to lose a league game this season.
The visitors were viable contenders for the league last season (prior to a calamitous collapse) and the hosts are currently top of the league and looking imperious. What’s not to like?
Not much, if you’re a Chelsea fan. Supporters of Spurs will, however, likely be feeling pangs of trepidation as the waters in which they presently find themselves are choppy as hell. A season which had promised so much looks in danger of unraveling if their problems are not addressed soon. Even allowing for their banana-skin conclusion to last season’s league, they still did enough to qualify for the Champions League. As of Tuesday night gone, that particular adventure is done and the domestic league is where they must scrape for their dreams.
Little reason for cheer
The day after Chelsea began their aforementioned winning run, Spurs put in brilliant performance against Manchester City and became the first team to knock Pep Guardiola’s team to the ground. Since then, Spurs have won just once in the league and that a dramatic late victory last weekend against an imploding West Ham. Even allowing for that victory, Spurs have looked poor for some time now. Nothing seems to be clicking for them, the urgency and accuracy of last season having deserted them for the time being. They will fervently hope this to be a temporary state of being.
Plenty of reason for cheer!
By contrast, everything is going brilliantly for Chelsea. Since their now-famous tactical re-jig to a three-man defence, they have won six from six with 17 goals scored and none conceded. In any man’s language, that is some impressive work. You must remember, that two of the three men in defence are David Luiz and Gary Cahiil. Now, whilst they may not be quite as bad as their reputations suggest, they are not outstanding players and yet, this new system under the tutelage of Antonio Conte seems to have brought the best out of the pair, playing to their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.
Either side of a London coin
Not a single Chelsea player is being carried, not one of them is negating their duties. In other words, Conte seems to be getting close to the maximum from the resources available to him. Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochetinno, appears to be going in the opposite direction. Few, if any, of his players are close to the level of performance he has come to expect from them and he must examine his own role therein. Does he train them too hard? Has his message gone stale? Whatever the reason, he could have done without facing a rampant Chelsea this weekend.
After having viewed their abject performance in their loss to Monaco, this column wouldn’t be surprised if a stiff breeze could better Spurs at the moment. They are professionals and will have dusted themselves down and prepared themselves for this match but the spark that they need to re-invigorate themselves isn’t there at the moment and without it, against this Chelsea team, they are sunk. The bookies think likewise, pricing unbeaten-in-the-league Spurs at about 4/1. The smart money should go on the Chelsea win with BetVictor offering 4/5 on that outcome.