Thursday evening's match is crucial for both Tottenham and Chelsea in their endeavours to close the gap on the two Manchester clubs who head the Premier League table. Defeat for either club would be a big blow at the start of the busy holiday period and both clubs will be hoping that injury doubts can be overcome so that they can field their strongest teams for such a vital game. Chelsea have had a disappointing start to the season compared with previous years - and have lacked their normal consistency both as a team and as individuals.
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New manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has taken time to find his best team and has ruffled a few feathers among the established Chelsea players heirarchy by omitting some of them from the team on occasions - Lampard, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Alex and Nicolas Anelka. With the results not always going as Chelsea would have wanted, including two home defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, Villas-Boas has been under considerable pressure early in his Stamford Bridge managerial career.
Chelsea's draw on Saturday was only their second this season, having drawn at Stoke on the opening day of the season. Their away record also includes four wins at Newcastle (3 - 0), Wolves (3 - 0), Blackburn (1 - 0) and Bolton (5 - 1). They suffered defeat at Manchester United (1 - 3) in September and at QPR (0 - 1). The loss at Loftus Road was eventful for a variety of reasons, including the dismissal of Jose Bosingwa and Drogba before half-time and allegations that John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand, a matter for which he has been charged by the police and is to appear in court at the beginning of February.
Their win at St. James' Park also caught media attention over the referee's failure to send off David Luiz in the fourth minute when his foul prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity. Drogba scored before half-time and two late goals rather flattered them.
Their leading goalscorer is Daniel Sturridge with nine, eight in the League. He has impressed since returning from last season's loan spell with Bolton Wanderers. While Lampard has not always been in their starting team, he has still accumulated 8 goals (7 in the League) but Drogba has only managed two in the Premier League. Ramieres and Mata have three each and John Terry has scored four. Terry appears to have overcome his injury scare in training on Monday and will be fit to play.
Tottenham have their own injury worries ahead of the game with Aaron Lennon definitely missing while doubts surround Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe who both missed Sunday's win over Sunderland. The usual late decision will determine whether Ledley King will be able to play his second game inside four days.
Tottenham's Recent Home League Record against Chelsea
It is well documented that Spurs' record against Chelsea in the Premier League era is poor, so I don't intend to dwell on that and will focus on the recent years since November, 2006 which has seen Tottenham overcome their Chelsea hoodoo at the Lane.
Nov. 2006 PL Won 2 - 1 Dawson, Lennon
Chelsea took the lead after fifteen minutes but Michael Dawson equalised from a free-kick ten minutes later. Seven minutes into the second half, Aaron Lennon put Spurs ahead after good work on the left by Robbie Keane. John Terry was sent off with eighteen minutes remaining and Spurs held out for their first victory over Chelsea in nineteen years.
Mar. 2008 PL Draw 4 - 4 Woodgate, Berbatov, Huddlestone, Keane
Chelsea were ahead after three minutes through Drogba but Jonathan Woodgate equalised after twelve. Essien restored the visitors' lead after twenty minutes and Joe Cole increased it early in the second half. Ten minutes later Dimitar Berbatov reduced the lead and Tom Huddlestone equalised with thirteen minutes left. Cole added his second, three minutes later to restore Chelsea's advantage, only for Robbie Keane to score with two minutes left with a beautiful curled shot. With the match in added time, Berbatov missed an opportunity to snatch victory for Spurs.
Mar. 2009 PL Won 1 - 0 Modric
A well struck shot from Luka Modric, set up by Aaron Lennon, early in the second half gave Spurs the three points. It was a great team effort with Heurelho Gomes making a number of crucial saves as the game drew to a close.
Apr. 2010 PL Won 2 - 1 Defoe (pen), Bale
A week earlier Spurs had lost top Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi-final but had beaten Arsenal at the Lane three days later as their renewed drive for Champions League football got underway. Spurs had the perfect start with a Defoe penalty after fifteen minutes. They doubled their lead a minute from the interval through Gareth Bale who left his defender trailing before scoring past Cech. Chelsea's goal came in the final minute from Frank Lampard.
Dec. 2010 PL Draw 1 - 1 Pavlyuchenko
Michael Dawson returned for last season's game, having been absent since September with injury. Roman Pavlyuchenko put Spurs ahead after fifteen minutes from a Jermain Defoe cross. Tottenham held the early ascendancy but in the second half the introduction of Didier Drogba gave the visitors some inspiration and he equalised with twenty minutes remaining, when Dawson slipped as he challenged and Gomes allowed a fierce drive which was straight at him, go into the net. Spurs avoided defeat in the final minute when Gomes redeemed himself by saving a Drogba penalty which he had conceded.
Previous Success Against Chelsea
Feb. 1990 1st Div. (a) Won 2 - 0 Howells, Lineker
Aug. 1987 1st Div. (h) Won 1 - 0 Claesen
Tottenham, with two away games over Christmas, will want to take all three points to aid their own progress while denting those of one of their nearest rivals. To have any chance of getting close enough to United and City to put in a challenge for the title, they need to win their home games and maintain their impressive record in London derbies. Fitness worries will be a concern but they have adapted well so far to meet different problems so hopefully they will be prepared for the battle that will be required to overcome a Chelsea side who have extensive experience of coping with such important games.