Who: Tottenham Hotspur FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 6
Where: White Hart Lane, London, England, United Kingdom
When: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 12:45 BST/7:45 a.m. EDT/4:45 a.m. PDT
TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Live Extra, Mun2, DirecTV (USA); BBC One, BT Sport 1 (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM - Sirius Channel 94, TalkSport Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live
Referee: Mike Dean
Odds: Tottenham +165, Chelsea +175, Draw +220
Total: Over 2½ +105, Under 2½ -125
Alternate Line: Tottenham Pick -115, Chelsea Pick -105
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
3-Way Odds: Tottenham +140, Chelsea +160, Draw +200
Total: Under 2½ -149, Over 2½ +110
Decimal Odds: Tottenham 2.40, Chelsea 2.60, Draw 3.00
Decimal Total: Under 2½ 1.67, Over 2½ 2.10
Fractional Odds: Tottenham 7/5, Chelsea 8/5, Draw 2/1
Fractional Total: Under 2½ 67/100, Over 2½ 11/10
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
It’s hard to deem such an early game on the English Premier League schedule a “big one,” but Saturday’s London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham at White Hart Lane is just that.
Heading in, Spurs (4-0-1) are tied with North London rivals Arsenal for the top spot on the league table while Chelsea (3-1-1) sits in fourth place, two points back and looking for a spark to build upon.
But despite the deceiving comfortability of their respective spots in the standings, both Spurs and the Blues have had some trouble scoring so far this campaign, with Tottenham putting just five in the back of the net through its first five games, and Chelsea scoring only six goals—and none so far away from the friendly confines of Stamford Bridge.
And while both teams have been somewhat lackluster offensively in league play, the defense and goalkeeping have been absolutely brilliant so far by both clubs.
Tottenham and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris have allowed just one goal so far—an Olivier Giroud goal in the North London derby on Sept. 1 at the Emirates, won by Arsenal, 1-0. And that’s also just one goal in nine games overall, including clean sheets in three Europa League games and one more in the Capital One Cup.
And, as a matter of fact, all nine Tottenham games to date have been shutouts, and Spurs have been much better on offense out of the Premier League, scoring an impressive 15 goals in those four games, all clean sheet wins.
Over in West London, Chelsea has also been pretty stout defensively, with goalkeeper Petr Cech allowing just two goals heading into this showdown—one in a home win to Aston Villa and one in a road loss at Everton in its last league road fixture.
Much has been made about Europa League champions Chelsea’s troubles this season in the league, but, in reality, most of it is just nervous lip-service about striker woes and midfielder Juan Mata not starting enough under new manager Jose Mourinho.
What Blues fans could justifiably be worried about is defensive midfield injury issues with youngster Marco van Ginkel now out for six months after having surgery on Thursday on an anterior cruciate ligament he hurt on Tuesday against Swindon Town and Ramires nursing a hip injury and being listed as doubtful for Saturday’s clash on the club's website.
These injuries will put some added pressure, at least for the time being, on John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and quite possibly David Luiz, who seems better suited for the defensive midfield anyway.
And although Gareth Bale is now gone and getting paid el dinero grande at Real Madrid in La Liga, Tottenham still has some talent on the attack in Jermain Defoe, Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Nacer Chadli, Andros Townsend and Paulinho, among others, and should be just fine without the FA’s 2012 Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, Bale.
Chelsea did much to improve its attack over the summer, signing Andre Schurrle, Willian and Samuel Eto’o and keeping the talented Kevin De Bruyne on the roster, but so far the team has yet to gel offensively and has had trouble scoring more than two goals per game all calendar year.
But, with expectations large with Mourinho’s return and the critics—both professional and amateur—louder than they have ever been it seems, it appears things are falling apart at SW6, when in reality a win here would silence the angry myopic mob and possibly put the Blues back on top of the table.
So, while getting the victory and the three points here will be paramount for Chelsea against Spurs and former manager Andre Villas-Boas, winning and shutting up the nattering nabobs of royal blue negativity would be even better in some strange perverted way.
Trend-wise, nine of the 10 combined games these two teams have played in the Premier League have gone under the posted total, the lone exception being Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa which ended up going over by a half-goal on a header by Branislav Ivanovic at the 73-minute mark.
In those 10 combined games, there was a total of 14 goals scored (1.40 average goals per game) and with the total here at 2½ (-125, LVH SuperBook), pretty easy to just back playing the under in a game which is sure to be tight, much like the Blues’ 0-0 draw at Old Trafford earlier this season against defending champs Manchester United.
But in this fixture last season, Chelsea won 4-2 so anything is possible, but it’s strange to think both teams combined for as many goals in that meeting as both teams have scored in all five of Tottenham’s games this season (6).
The Blues hold a 4-4-2 edge in the last 10 in this series, outscoring Spurs 19-11 in the process, but choosing a side in this one is truly a toss-up, and the draw (+220) may be definitely be worth a look.
It’s anyone’s guess who Mourinho will have in his starting XI, but Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Rowanne Westhenry had some pretty logical choices in her latest story here on the website, and Mata and striker Fernando Torres should be out there to start this one for Mourinho & Company.
Although somebody somehow will probably find a way to score a goal in this one, going to stick to my guns here and call a scoreless draw at White Hart Lane which will leave both clubs likely concerned with the same issues they were headed in.
And be aware of the early start time here in this weekend’s EPL lid-lifter which could possibly have some bearing come next May on who ends up qualifying for UEFA Champions League play, and who ends up playing in the UEFA Europa League.
PREDICTION: Tottenham 0 Chelsea 0
BET: Tottenham-Chelsea Under 2½ -125
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