With just 10 teams in action on the Premier League schedule this weekend, all eyes will be on Stamford Bridge when league-leading Chelsea host Tottenham in a game with major title and Champions League implications.
Coming into Stamford Bridge and earning a win has been nearly impossible to this point in the season. Just one team this season—FC Basel in the Champions League group stage—has managed to beat Chelsea at home in all competitions.
Tottenham will hope they bring a bit of kryptonite with them for this match. Spurs have been good on the road this season, with nine wins and two draws in 14 away matches. But can that form hold up against the Blues and their 12 wins and two draws in 14 home matches in Premier League play?
Let's find out.
When: March 8 at noon ET
March 8 at 5 p.m. GMT
Where: Stamford Bridge
Chances: Chelsea (52.5 percent), Tottenham (22.4 percent) and draw (25.1 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
Chelsea received a big boost prior to this match, as Jose Mourinho confirmed that Eden Hazard would be available against Spurs, though Ashley Cole would miss the match, via Miguel Delaney of ESPN FC. Mourinho also downplayed the team's current place atop the table, saying they are just focused on this match:
I just say we have to try and win our next match. It doesn't matter the opponent, the competition, the stadium. We just try and win. There's nothing hidden. We try and win the game. That's the objective.
I keep saying [our points lead] is not a realistic situation. Realistically is when teams have played the same number of matches, so you can say properly if you're in front or behind. When some teams have played more matches than others, the situation is not real. I don't look at the table, I look at the game.
While Chelsea will have their star man in action, Spurs will be without Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches and Erik Lamela, according to Kevin Palmer of ESPN FC.
There is also plenty of history on Chelsea's side in this particular matchup, according to OptaJoe:
26 - Chelsea have lost none of their last 26 home games against Tottenham in all competitions, winning 16. Banker.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 7, 2014
Those aren't very good odds for Spurs. But hey, the past is the past, and Spurs have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford and drew with Everton at Goodison Park, so perhaps this is the year they'll exorcise their Stamford Bridge demons.
While Chelsea simply don't lose at home and have consistently remained at or near the top of the Premier League this season, Tottenham have remained inconsistent. Perhaps due to Manchester United's struggles this season, they've nonetheless remained in fifth place, but Spurs still haven't strung together three consecutive wins in all competitions since early December.
On their best day they can hang with most teams, but it's hard to know which days they'll bring that A-game and which days they'll provide another lackluster performances.
Emmanuel Adebayor has been rejuvenated under Tim Sherwood and Roberto Soldado finally broke his scoreless drought against Cardiff City, so the Tottenham strikers will test Chelsea's defense. But with Eriksen unavailable—and perhaps out of favor anyway—the problem for Spurs remains who will set the table for the forwards outside of Mousa Dembele.
Which team wins?
Chelsea have no such problems. While they prefer to remain defensively responsible and spring forward on the counter when the opportunity presents itself, the triumvirate of Hazard, Oscar and Willian remains wildly effective.
And with Andre Schurrle waiting in the wings, the Blues have plenty of attacking combinations to throw at defenses.
At home, with a more talented side and a title race still plenty competitive, it's hard to see Chelsea dropping points. They'll win, 2-1.