English Premier League

Chelsea vs Tottenham | Saturday 22 February | Stamford Bridge | 14:30

Gameweek 27 of the Premier League kicks off with a bang as London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham settle scores at Stamford Bridge in the early kick-off on Saturday. It is always entertaining when Jose Mourinho is in the opposition dugout at Stamford Bridge and this visit will be no different.

Back in the 2006/07 season, while manager of Chelsea, Mourinho had an uncharacteristic short haircut and claimed he is ready for war. The same haircut is back and he is now Tottenham’s five-star general coming to his old stomping grounds with very potent weapons in the form of Son Heung-min, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura.

Chelsea will host German juggernauts Bayern Munich while Tottenham host RB Leipzig in midweek after this encounter in the UEFA Champions League. With the most elite cup competition around the corner, it can cause a distraction, but with just a point separating the sides in the Premier League – and Manchester United breathing heavily down their necks – the league will be their number one priority.

After news that Manchester City will be banned from the Champions League for two seasons, the fifth league position will be rewarded with entry to next season’s competition – a goal that both managers will be gunning for and victory for either side is a very valuable three points.

Lampard and Mourinho are modern legends of the game and this encounter of student against master will be an intriguing one.

To Win
Chelsea 8/10
Draw 29/10
Tottenham 33/10


There are obvious signs that things are going to get much better for Chelsea next season under the tutelage of Lampard, having acquired the services of Hakim Ziyech for next season. However, the Blues have been far too inconsistent recently, taking just six points from their last six league games, scoring eight goals and conceding eight times.

Considering losing, for me, the league’s best player Eden Hazard and not being able to sign any players during previous windows due to the transfer ban – Chelsea are not in a bad position at all and despite their 2-0 home defeat against Manchester United, are still strong favourites to earn themselves a place into the 2020/2021 Champions League. Young players are bound to be inconsistent and will improve when given time.

With the arriving Ziyech and possibly Jadon Sancho, players will want to cement their position in the starting eleven. These big games will do a world of good for the young up and comers. It’s fair to say Chelsea have really missed Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in games this season. The good news for Chelsea fans is both are nearing a return. However, Lampard will be sweating on the fitness of N’Golo Kante who was substituted against United after 13 minutes with an adductor injury.

The biggest test will be on the shoulders of striker Tammy Abraham who is also racing to get fit. The 22-year old youngster’s speed, agility and impressive 1.91m frame gives him an advantage in most battles and he could mature into a modern day Didier Drogba fused with Tore Andre Flo.

Chelsea really need Abraham in this game as Michy Batshuayi has showed he’s simply not good enough. The Englishman has got 13 goals and five assists to his name in the league. He has to get more than 20 goals for the season and keep pushing on. With Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane both long-term injury absentees, he might also have to play a bigger role than first intended for England at EURO 2020. Abraham has to score and create in these big games and show England manager Gareth Southgate that he is more deserving of a place in the national team setup.


Tottenham have been saved by Son in the absence of their injured talisman Harry Kane. Son has been on the scoresheet for the last three league games. Spurs have taken all three points against Norwich City, Manchester City and Aston Villa thanks to the South Korean. Flanked by Berwijn and Moura, they are a deadly trio which possess a combination of pace and power.

Harry Winks and Eric Dier played as a double pivot in midfield over the last few games. Dele Alli plays as the third midfielder but he is going through a dry spell with only one goal and one assist in his last seven league games. He does, however, have a good record against Chelsea.

Giovanni Lo Celso is a quality midfielder that is yet to start games regularly as well as record signing Tanguay Ndombele. Mourinho is a big fan of Lo Celso, saying, “I think he can play everywhere. He can play No. 10, No. 8, double midfield player with Winks. He can play right or left. I think he can play everywhere. I’m so happy with him I like him very, very much.”

Mourinho is fond of “parking the bus” against big teams and coming away with points, sitting off and allowing the opposition to have possession of the ball, while his team keeps their defensive shape and defend with all hands on deck, then springing counter-attacks that release their forwards’ explosive pace.

The Portuguese manager recently gave a masterclass in Spurs’ 2-0 victory at the Etihad against Manchester City with 36% ball possession showing what he is capable of when given the right type of players.

He always has a trick up his sleeve in these big games and his wildcard has been youth team product Japhet Tanganga, used to man mark key players from the opposition with fearless expertise. This team is going to be a real force in the future. The manager is ambitious and has the full backing of a talented group of players. A much more balanced squad compared to the one he inherited at Manchester United.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 4-3-3

Caballero; James, Zouma, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham.

Tottenham: 4-2-3-1
Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Tanganga; Dier, Winks; Moura, Alli, Berwijn; Son.

Prediction: Draw (29/10)
Chelsea won the reverse fixture 2-0 in December, so Spurs will be desperate to get a result away at the bridge. A win for Chelsea will see them open up a gap on the other teams for UEFA Champions League positions. Given the performance against Manchester City, I’m backing the visitors to come away with a hard-fought point.

Bryan Naicker

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