Who: Chelsea FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur FC
What: English Premier League Week 29
Where: Stamford Bridge, West London, England, United Kingdom
When: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Stamford Bridge
Time: 5:30 p.m. (UK) 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Live Extra, Mun2 (US); Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Sports 3D (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC SIRI 94 (Internet 94), TalkSport Radio
Referee: Michael Oliver
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -180, Tottenham +525, Draw +275
Total: Over 2½ -125, Under 2½ +105
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.56, Tottenham 6.25, Draw 4.00
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.80, Under 2½ 2.05
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 5/9, Tottenham 21/4, Draw 3/1
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 4/5, Under 2½ 21/20
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1½ +160, Tottenham +1½ -190
Over 1½ -400, Under 1½ +300
Over 3½ +200, Under 3½ -250
First Half: Chelsea -½ +110, Tottenham +½ -140
Over 1 -125, Under 1 -105
Chelsea -110, Tottenham -450, Draw +130
Odds to Win Premier League: Chelsea 11/10, Tottenham 250/1
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -175, Tottenham +594, Draw +317
Total: Over 2½ -120, Under 2½ +100
Source: Pinnacle (Willemstad, Curacao)
Chelsea’s month of London derbies resumes on Saturday when the Blues welcome Tottenham Hotspur down from North London to Stamford Bridge. This is the most exciting game on the schedule in an abbreviated English Premier League slate of weekend games.
Spurs (16-5-7, 53 points) enter this match in fifth place, four points behind Manchester City (57 points). But once this game has been played, the Sky Blues will actually have three games in hand on Tottenham—because of Capital One Cup and FA Cup rescheduling—so to really have any shot at Champions League qualification, the Lilywhites need to start by upsetting Chelsea here in West London.
But can Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood and Tottenham be the side that finally brings an end to Jose Mourinho’s gaudy unbeaten home streak as Blues manager at home in SW6? Probably not now, with the way the 51-year-old Portuguese conductor and former central midfielder has this team playing, with an unbeaten 12-2-0 mark at the Bridge and 29 goals scored and just nine conceded on its sacred home soil.
Although still just barely hanging in the Premier League race, Spurs just don’t match up with the four clubs above them as their tepid goal differential (+4) reveals. But Tottenham and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris have been surprisingly strong away from White Hart Lane this season, going 9-2-3 (21 goals for, 15 goals against) so who knows? Maybe Saturday is Spurs big awakening and lucky day. Stranger things have happened.
Should that upset occur, a look at Tottenham's schedule reveals a very fortuitous April and May ahead but lying in the way this month are a pair of Europa League third-round matches with Portuguese Liga heavies Benfica as well as league dates with third-place Arsenal (March 16) and against second-place Liverpool at Anfield (March 30). Hope the Spurs physios stocked up on the old Epsom salt.
Tottenham is coming off a 1-0 home win over Cardiff City on Sunday where Roberto Soldado scored the game’s only goal and his first in nine games for Spurs in a match typical of the clubs’ season—solid defense and little, sputtering offense. Even though it has scored 15 more goals than Tottenham (52-37), Chelsea can surely relate on some level.
Remember the good old days when the Blues actually had strikers who scored in league play?
First-place Chelsea (19-6-3, 63 points)—fairly healthy as a whole—heads into this derby coming off of a SW6 derby win on Saturday over Premier League bottom-dwellers Fulham (3-1) at Craven Cottage in which Andre Schurrle had a hat-trick and the visitors earned the three expected points.
Mourinho seems to be sticking with a 4-2-3-1 formation and a starting XI for the Blues with Cech, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic in the back. Who on Earth can blame him when this combination has allowed the least goals (22) in the league and the third least in all of jolly olde England behind Cambridge United (19) and Wolverhampton (20)?
For Tottenham, manager Sherwood may employ a 4-2-2 tactical formation against Chelsea as he did against the Bluebirds with Emmanuel Adebayor (eight goals) and Soldado (six goals) up top of an attacking midfield with the possible likes of Paulinho (four goals), Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele or Andros Townsend.
One valuable Spurs midfielder who may likely end up featuring here is Christian Eriksen (back) who was ruled ineligible to play for his native Denmark in a midweek friendly against England according to a Daily Mail report.
So, in a game of such magnitude, Tottenham and Sherwood may unleash the talented 22-year-old Eriksen—who hasn't played in a Premier League game since Everton on Feb. 9—on Saturday against the Europa League champion Blues in what may be Spurs last chance of thrusting itself back into the race for a Champions League qualifying spot.
Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker is also nursing an injury (hip) and is also reportedly out for Wednesday’s Denmark-England (Fox Soccer 2, 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT) international friendly. His status for this showdown with the Blues also remains to be seen, although one can expect all hands on deck for the visitors for this extremely pivotal fixture.
When these two clubs met earlier this season at White Hart Lane in September, it ended in a 1-1 tie thanks to, of course, a second-half goal by Terry, after Gylfi Sigurosson gave the home side an early lead. This fixture last season also ended in a tie (2-2)—as have three more of the last 10 meetings in which Chelsea has lost just once (4-5-1, 20 goals for, 11 goals against).
One big difference this time around for the Blues will be the presence of defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic who, along with fellow bulldogs Terry and Cahill, will be focusing on keeping Adebayor and Soldado and the Spurs attack—which seems extremely limited in its upfield passing abilities without the electric Eriksen on the pitch—in check.
Although Schurrle is coming off a hat-trick, The Special One may choose to start Eden Hazard, Willian and either Oscar or Ramires in the attacking midfield in front of Matic, and possibly Frank Lampard with Samuel Eto’o likely getting the start at the striker spot, as he juggles his roster with Champions League play in mind.
The combination of expecting to win at home under/for Mourinho, the most airtight defense in the league and an offense slowly finding it can get production from players like Schurrle and Willian should be a bit too much for Tottenham which will be hard-pressed to score two goals the way its offense has been playing in 2014. Hazard and Eto’o alone should combine for two scores here for the Blues.
Next up for Chelsea is a Premier League date with Aston Villa at Villa Park (March 15), followed just three days later by the return leg of its UEFA Champions League round of 16 series (tied 1-1) with Galatasaray and Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge on March 18.
The final two Saturday London derbies on the Blues schedule this month are against fourth-place Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on March 22 and at Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace at Whitehorse Lane in South Norwood in the Borough of Croydon on March 29. Sounds like Chelsea should arrive by horse and carriage or something for that one.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 3 Tottenham 1
BETS: Chelsea -250, Chelsea -1 -150
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