Who: Chelsea FC at Tottenham Hotspur FC
What: English Premier League, Week 8
Where: White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London, England, UK
When: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel Forecast
Time: 12:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 a.m. PT
Television: Sky Sports 2/HD (UK), ESPN2, ESPN3 (USA)
Computer: ESPN3 Link
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com Link
Radio: SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 94 (Internet 960)
Referee: Mike Dean
2-Way Odds: Chelsea Pick -115, Tottenham Pick -115
3-Way Odds: Chelsea +160, Tottenham +160 Draw +230
Total: Over 2½ -120, Under 2½ -110
Source: Bovada Online Gaming (Kahnawake, Canada)
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 2.70, Tottenham 2.70, Draw 3.30
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 17/10, Tottenham 3/2, Draw 23/10
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.85, Under 2½ 1.85
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
Chelsea has finally reached that point in its season where the rubber meets the road.
With Tottenham (EPL), Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League) and two games against Manchester United (EPL, Capital One Cup) all coming up in the next two weeks, we will all see if this team is as good as the start it has gotten off to so far.
On Saturday, the first-place Blues (6-1-0, 19 points) travel 16 kilometers (almost 10 miles) north to Tottenham (4-2-1, 14 points) to dance with the fifth-place Spurs in what should be a tight and thrilling London derby.
Both clubs are undefeated in their last six—Chelsea 5-1-0 and Tottenham 4-2-0—and Spurs have only had one season (2009/2010) in which they have had more points after their first seven league games than they do so far this campaign.
Tottenham’s only loss this season came to Newcastle United (2-1) in its EPL, opener and the rejuvenated Spurs haven’t lost an EPL London derby at White Hart Lane since September of 2007 (Arsenal, 3-1) and have gone 13-7-0 in derbies since that loss to the Gunners.
So what’s different for Tottenham this time around? A lot.
The last time these two met at White Hart Lane (December 22, 2011), André Villas-Boas was managing Chelsea. Now he’s the Spurs head man on the sidelines.
In the midfield, Tottenham have added Moussa Dembélé and Clint Dempsey—who scored in both meetings against the Blues last season—from Fulham and possess a very potent attack now along with stars Gareth Bale (two goals) and Jermain Defoe (four goals).
Dempsey knows the significance of this weekend’s match.
"It is going to be an important game because the table is so tight," the American told Sky Sports News. "You have to take care of your home games and try to get as many results as you can."
Spurs manager Villas-Boas, no doubt still a little bit hurt by his exit from Chelsea in March, is counting on the White Hart Lane faithful to be in rare form on Saturday for this showdown.
“When this stadium rocks, it rocks,” Villas-Boas said in the Daily Mirror. “We have to make sure that we raise that intensity.”
The two league meetings between these two clubs last season ended in low-scoring draws (1-1, 0-0) while the last time these two faced off, in the FA Cup semi-finals in April, Chelsea rolled to a 5-1 victory.
One storyline to watch for Spurs is who Villas-Boas decides to put in goal. After starting a record-setting 310 straight EPL matches, 41-year-old American Brad Friedel was replaced by Villas-Boas with Hugo Lloris last game against Aston Villa and the Frenchman has made it clear that he came to the club to be a starter.
Whoever gets the call for Tottenham will be up against a Chelsea side who has scored 15 goals and is offensively now firing on all cylinders with Fernando Torres (four goals), Frank Lampard (three goals), Juan Mata (four assists) and Eden Hazard (four assists) leading the way.
Besides the usual suspects putting the ball in in the back of the net in EPL play, the Blues also have seen 33 percent (five goals) of their scoring coming from defenders with Serbian Branislav Ivanović leading the way with three scores.
While the Blues have lost just two of their last 10 meetings with Spurs (3-2-5), Chelsea is just 0-3-3 in their last six trips to White Hart Lane.
With Blues goalkeeper Čech in top form, Chelsea has allowed just four goals in its first seven EPL games and has yet to allow a score in the second half—the only team in the league that can say that.
And although Yahoo! Eurosport match facts say Tottenham has won just three of its 40 Premier League clashes with Chelsea, this game should be closely contested and any Blues fans thinking this will be a breeze best remember that Spurs will be motivated by the whole AVB thing and that they upset Manchester United, 3-2 on September 29 at Old Trafford.
No small feat there.
Like the last two league meetings last season, this one should be low-scoring and extremely close and I think there is value in betting the draw here as neither side wants to risk a loss and lose its current momentum or position in the league table now.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 1 Tottenham 1
BETS: Draw +230, Under 2½ -120
Predicted Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembélé; Lennon, Dempsey, Bale; Defoe
Predicted Chelsea starting XI: Čech; Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanović; Mikel, Lampard; Hazard, Mata, Oscar; Torres
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