#Chelsea will look to maintain their status at the top of the #Premier League on Saturday evening when they take on #Tottenham Hotspur. There are only four points separating leaders Chelsea and unbeaten Spurs, making their clash at Stamford Bridge one of the biggest games of the season so far.
Chelsea come into the game in red-hot form. Since manager Antonio Conte switched to a back three after a chastening first half at Arsenal, the Blues have not conceded a goal. Conte could in fact name the same starting eleven for the sixth match in a row.
Tottenham are meanwhile the Premier League’s only unbeaten side. That said, they crashed out of the Champions League at Monaco on Tuesday, and had drawn four consecutive league matches up until their late win over West Ham last weekend. Spurs must also overcome a dreadful record at Stamford Bridge – they haven’t won there 1990. Tottenham threw away a 2-0 lead at Chelsea last season to hand the title to Leicester City.
To stay in touch in this season’s title race, Spurs will need to emerge from Stamford Bridge with something. Here’s where the game could be won and lost.
Diego Costa vs Eric Dier
Chelsea striker Costa has returned to top form this season after an indifferent campaign in 2015/16. He is the Premier League’s top scorer this term with ten goals and looks to be back to his belligerent best. He will fancy his chances on Saturday up against a makeshift central defensive pairing of Eric Dier and Kevin Wimmer. Costa may well target Dier, who is used to playing in midfield for Tottenham and England.
Eden Hazard vs Victor Wanyama
Like Costa, Hazard looks to be his old self again after a below-par season which led to Chelsea finishing tenth prior to Antonio Conte’s arrival. He has seven league goals in 12 games so far. He also has a good record against Spurs, with four goals in his last five matches including last season’s crucial equaliser. Victor Wanyama has undoubtedly added strength to Spurs’ midfield since his transfer from Southampton in the summer. However, he will need to keep his discipline up against the trickery of Hazard – he has committed 25 fouls in the Premier League this season (fourth-most).
Victor Moses vs Jan Vertonghen
Moses has been a revelation since being deployed as a right wing-back by manager Conte. His pace is likely to cause problems for Vertonghen, who is tipped to fill in at left-back. First-choice Danny Rose is suspended for this fixture, while reserve left-back Ben Davies is injured.
Dele Alli vs N’Golo Kanté
Attacking midfielder Alli is a key creative player for Tottenham. His understanding with striker Harry Kane was a huge factor behind their strong showing last season. But he will need to be at his best to have an impact on Saturday’s game up against the energetic Kanté. Since moving from champions Leicester in the summer, Kanté has played every minute in Chelsea’s impressive start to the season.
Harry Kane vs Gary Cahill
Spurs will hope to get some joy from Kane, who will be facing his England teammate Cahill. 23 year-old Kane has become a leading figure for Tottenham, and was the Premier League’s top scorer last season. Injury has limited him to only seven games this term, but he has scored three in two since coming back for the North London derby against Arsenal. Centre-back Cahill has been a regular for Chelsea, despite starting the season poorly. The switch to three at the back has helped him turn around his form, but he will certainly be tested by Kane.