It’s been a non-stop treat of Premier League football over the last week, and the action just gets better and better. Tottenham vs Chelsea takes all the headlines on Wednesday night, and it promises to be a cracking game. Can Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the table and stretch the winning run to 14 games? Or can Spurs make it unlucky number 13 and help the chasing pack reel in the long-time leaders?
The Blues’ impressive run has seen them labelled as Champions in waiting by many pundits, and with no European distractions they are at full strength on the domestic front. The 13-game sequence that Antonio Conte’s men are on has included wins against Manchester United and City as well as Spurs in the return fixture, so there is plenty of depth to the form. They’ve also managed to keep nine clean sheets in those games – arguably due to the adoption of Conte’s preferred back three in defence. This match represents a huge test though, as Chelsea go up against a team which has pushed its way into the top four off the back of four straight wins.
The return to form of Harry Kane and Dele Alli has come at a good time for a Spurs side which meekly bowed out of the Champions League. A Europa League campaign beckons this year, but the priority is surely to qualify for the big one again next season. After a muddling October and November, Spurs have now won six of the last seven in all competitions – their only defeat the 1-0 loss at Manchester United. A pair of 4-1 wins over Southampton and Watford followed 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Burnley and Hull respectively. Those teams may not be in the same ‘league’ as Chelsea in terms of quality, but there has been lots to like about Tottenham’s performances.
You have to go back to the 24th of September for Chelsea’s last Premier League defeat, and that 3-0 loss at Arsenal proved to be something of a turning point. Antonio Conte had been employing a back four in the early stages of his Blues career, but it seems that game prompted him to revert to his preferred back three system. Thirteen straight victories would back that up, and there’s been an air of invincibility about the West Londoners. The media may be running stories about how Diego Costa wanted to leave the club in the summer, but the striker has been in red hot form alongside a rejuvenated Eden Hazard.
The 4-0 and 5-0 thumping of Manchester United and Everton were usurped by the excellent win away at Manchester City, and at this stage it looks like any team which can finish above Chelsea will win the title. Any clubs hoping to catch them are resigned to hoping the Blues drop points along the way, and if Spurs can get a result it will help everyone in the chasing pack.
Spurs Playing Catch Up
Spurs have moved up to fourth in the table courtesy of their 4-1 win at Watford and Liverpool’s defeat of Man City, and although ten points behind their visitors, they are just four behind Liverpool in second (prior to this week’s fixtures). The Manchester clubs are hot on their tails in 5th and 6th, and City may well have leapfrogged Spurs by the time this game kicks off.
Harry Kane’s injury and the distraction of the Champions League have affected Spurs’ domestic campaign, but the top six have pulled well clear of Everton in 7th place. After the remarkable season we witnessed last year it appears to be normal service resumed at the head of affairs, and the battle for the top four will be intriguing over the rest of the season.
It must be remembered that even with the abject Champions League displays, Spurs were still unbeaten in the Premier League until they faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the end of November. Christian Eriksen gave them the lead on that day, before the Blues hit back with goals either side of half-time from Moses and Pedro. Spurs reacted with a 5-0 thrashing of Swansea in the following game, but suffered their second defeat of the season when losing 1-0 at Old Trafford. Those are the only two times the North London club has lost this season, and they remain unbeaten at home – winning the last four on the trot at White Hart Lane.
Chelsea have also only lost two games this season – 2-1 at home to Liverpool and 3-0 away at Arsenal. However, 16 wins in 19 so far is an incredible return, and the reason they sit six points clear at the top. Conte insists that the title is their focus rather than the record, but he would surely welcome the achievement. Saturday’s 4-2 win over Stoke equalled Arsenal’s record of 13 consecutive victories from the 2001/02 campaign, and if Chelsea go one better they will already have made history in what is turning into a most impressive season.
The bookies are unsure how to price this one up, offering near equal odds on both teams. If one had to make a selection it would be Chelsea at +181 with Marathonbet. Both sides have plenty of attacking quality, but when push comes to shove Chelsea are slightly the better defensively.
The bet which makes more appeal is over 2.5 goals at -105 with Bet365 and BetVictor. Many will err on the side of caution and predict a low-scoring affair, but there are reasons to believe we should see goals. Nine of Spurs last ten games have gone over the 2.5 goal line, and both teams have scored in seven of them. Chelsea do have a good clean sheet record, but five of their last ten have still had three or more goals. To add weight to the bet, seven of the last ten meetings would also have landed the odds.
Spurs v Chelsea – Over 2.5 Goals
Wednesday 4th January, 20:00 GMT
Chelsea to Win
Wednesday 4th January, 20:00 GMT
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