Take it from me; Tottenham Hotspur’s players will want to smash Chelsea to smithereens at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
Fuelled by the prospect of claiming payback for the second half comeback that cruelly dismantled their title dreams last May, and smarting from an embarrassingly early Champions League exit, motivation will be white hot inside Mauricio Pochettino’s dressing room. I guarantee it.
Can they control their emotions? Or will they overstep the mark like they did in that classic but bruising 2-2 draw last May?
If you aren’t convinced Tottenham can channel their aggression properly, betting on an away team red card may appeal. Kyle Walker, who was especially pumped up on his last visit, must deal with the lively Eden Hazard, so could be worth a punt at 25/1 to take an early bath.
Looking at the match from a tactical perspective, everything leans towards a Chelsea win.
Antonio Conte has a settled side that’s playing high-tempo, controlled football, and his attacking trio of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are particularly on-song. On top of that they haven’t let in a league goal since late September.
It’s usually Pochettino’s style to defend from the front, with a focus on stifling the service into opposition strikers (and I expect that to be the approach again) but the Blues are performing with such fluency that this will be incredibly difficult to execute – even for a side that’s got an outstanding defensive record themselves.
With two of their first choice back four absent – Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose – and Chelsea notoriously fast starters (they have scored four goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches) the North Londoners’ patched up rearguard may be troubled if asked to weather an early storm.
At a tempting 10/11 you can get Chelsea to score first and go on to win the contest. If you’re contemplating potential Blues goalscorers, you may want to consider the possibility of a set piece breaking the deadlock.
Spurs have only shipped four Premier League goals on their travels, but ALL of them have stemmed from a free kick or corner. It’s fair to say they haven’t quite got to grips with their defensive set up at dead balls.
The predatory Diego Costa is 16/5 to score first, but defenders David Luiz 17/1 or Gary Cahill 23/1 shouldn’t be ruled out if you see this is a likely avenue of success for the hosts.
Tottenham are no mugs though
They have the players to give Conte’s men a fright or two in this derby, and will fight like hell to get their revenge.
Until now, no one has really tested Chelsea’s new three-man defence, but with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min excellent runners down the channels, that could change this weekend. Remember, it was Son’s two late charges down the left that swung the derby with West Ham United in Spurs’ favour last weekend.
If they can pick out the right passes early enough to release those two forwards in wide areas, especially on turnovers, that rock solid Blues unit might look quite as impenetrable.
Kane and Son are 47/20 and 100/30 respectively to notch at any time in the 90 minutes.
On top of that, with five penalties in their last six matches, a cheeky dabble on Spurs to knock home another spot kick looks reasonable value at 8/1.
Without wishing to cast too many aspersions, Pochettino’s players (*coughs* Alli, Kane, Dembele and Janssen) are, how shall I put it, ‘clever’ at drawing fouls inside the box.
With emotions still raw from that unforgettable clash seven months ago, I doubt we’ll be sold short on the entertainment front.
This is a duel both teams will be busting a gut to win.
The chances of seeing another rip-roaring 2-2 are priced up at 13/1, but because Chelsea are in such a fine groove it’s hard to oppose the home side with any conviction. On paper they are the better side in better form.
Facing a depleted Spurs outfit that’s hungry but not at their best, I favour 1-0 (13/2) or 2-1 (7/1) as the most likely outcomes.
You can bet on Chelsea v Spurs or get involved with the rest of this weekend’s football betting action at Grosvenor Sports.
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