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AVB will be looking for revenge against his former employers.
For me, this is the big game. Any possible outcome can have an interesting effect on the teams around them, particularly fierce rivals Arsenal.
Victory is more vital for Tottenham’s chances of getting a Champions League place, with Chelsea sitting above them on goal difference, but with a precious game in hand. Spurs had a strong season until a few weeks ago, when their form deserted them in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Liverpool, and in addition to their stutter they have lost Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe to injury.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have turned a long run of mediocre performances—both from their star players and as a team—into a spell of hard-fought victories. The congested Christmas schedule has not had the devastating effect on fitness it was expected to, and with Oscar and Eden Hazard both in form the Blues are appearing to get into their rhythm for the first time this season.
Tottenham know that their meeting with Manchester City the week after, who are playing well despite not having much to play for other than a pretty much guaranteed second-place, means they cannot afford to lose this one. With Chelsea’s next fixture being Fulham, should the Stamford Bridge outfit beat Spurs it is very possible that by the Fulham game they could find themselves six-points ahead with a game in hand.
Of course, Arsenal will be hoping that Spurs drop the points, mainly because they look the more likely team to catch, but also the obvious rivalry. Also having a game in hand, they can leapfrog their rivals and sit four points ahead if they take six points from their next two matches.
But Spurs will still have a bitter taste from finishing fourth last year but being denied their Champions League spot by Chelsea’s European triumph, and will be looking for revenge. Add to that the despicable manner in which Spurs boss Andre Villas Boas was treated by Chelsea bank-roller Roman Abramovich during his time there, and things are getting personal.
One for the purists, and the hooligans.