Venue: White Hart Lane
Date: Saturday, 20 October
Kick-off: 12.45 GMT
After the wash-out that was the international break, it’s that horrible North London lot for us in today’s early kick-off. Predictably, the press have focused on the fact that it’s AVB’s first game against us since he was sent packing by Abramovich although for us, the real bonus in facing Spurs as the Champions of Europe is that our success ultimately led to their failure last season. Not only did we batter them 5-1 in the FA Cup semi final, but we robbed them of their place in Europe. Yes, I know we all know this but it never hurts to keep saying it!
Roberto Di Matteo seems to be doing a pretty good job so far this season and we’ve given ourselves a little bit of breathing space at the top of the Premier League but anything less than a win today would damage some of the work we’ve put in, so irrespective of anything that’s gone before today is all about the here and now.
Going into his first meeting with his former club, AVB says “It is the team who took this club out of the Champions League, this is the team who prevented this team from playing in FA Cup final last year. So in the end we certainly have ingredients for it to be a spectacular match, hopefully. We never know how the game can develop. But certainly, a good game might hopefully give us a chance to go nearer the top, which is what we want.
This game is not going to decide the future of both teams in the Premier League – after this game there will be 30 more games to play and both teams will have decisive matches in front of them. It counts as three points. It doesn’t win us a trophy.”
Roberto Di Matteo meanwhile is a little more succinct, saying “every win brings that positive mood into the camp, and helps build momentum.”
For Spurs, Naughton (ankle) and Adebayor could return, although Livermore (groin) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) are given as doubts.
For Chelsea, Lampard (calf) and Bertrand (virus) are doubtful, John Terry starts his four game ban although Sturridge (hamstring) is available again.
SPURS (from): Lloris, Friedel, Gomes, Cudicini, Smith, Gallas, Dawson, Walker, Vertonghen, Caulker, Falque, Huddlestone, Mason, Bale, Lennon, Sandro, Naughton, Dembele, Dempsey, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Townsend, Defoe, Adebayor, Obika.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Romeu, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Moses, Marin, Piazon, Torres, Turnbull, Sturridge.
Spurs 1-1 Chelsea (22nd December 2011)
Since their opening day defeat at Newcastle, it pains me to say Spurs are unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions. They’ve also lost just 2 from their last 22 at WHL in the league and have gone 20 unbeaten at home against London clubs and with four wins on the spin, of course we’re hearing all about how they’re the ‘in-form’ team.
By contrast, although we haven’t had a win in our last 6 trips to WHL, we’ve had our best start to a season since 2005-06. With only 4 goals conceded so far – and none at all in the second half of a game, we go into the game with the best defensive record in the league. Mind you, we’re also only a defeat away from being in the same position we were in at this stage last season. So, it’s bloody inevitable really we’ll concede in the second half and end up exactly where we were at under AVB!