Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur preview: Premier League match preview, where to watch and more
After winning 4 Premier League games in a row despite the absence of key man Harry Kane, analysts were once again talking up Tottenham’s hopes of a title challenge – but a stunning defeat to Burnley last weekend seems to have put any thought of toppling Liverpool or Manchester City on the backburner, for now.
Chelsea meanwhile bounced back from their stunning 6-0 Premier League loss to Manchester City and elimination from the FA Cup by Manchester United by beating Malmo in the Europa League, and then performed admirably against City in the EFL Cup Final – before apparently hitting self-destruct again when goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga defied boss Maurizio Sarri’s attempt to substitute him. The Blues subsequently lost the game in a penalty shoot-out.
With Tottenham desperate to close the gap on Liverpool and City by winning at Stamford Bridge – and Sarri’s job potentially on the line should Chelsea lose here – this promises to be one of the defining games of the 2018/19 Premier League season.
Date: 27th February 2019
Time: 20:00 (local time), 01:30 (IST)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: Andre Marriner
TV Coverage: BT Sport 1 (UK), Star Sports Select 1 (India), NBC Sports (US)
Last 5 Premier League fixtures
Tottenham Hotspur: W-W-W-W-L
Chelsea: 69 wins
Tottenham Hotspur: 54 wins
Draw: 40 draws
Can Tottenham make lightning strike twice?
Last time Spurs took on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Premier League action, they registered their first victory there in a massive 28 years. The game in January 2018 saw Chelsea take the lead through Alvaro Morata before Christian Eriksen hammered an equaliser home from 25 yards.
Two second-half strikes from Dele Alli then sealed the famous victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who went on to secure a 3rd place finish in the league.
After overcoming their hoodoo at Stamford Bridge last season, can Tottenham make lightning strike twice on Wednesday? They won’t have Alli, who was the hero in that game, but they will have the same referee, interestingly enough.
Andre Marriner will officiate Wednesday’s game just as he did the game at Stamford Bridge in 2018 – but on a plus point for Chelsea, they’ve only lost 10 of 43 games with Marriner in charge.
Will Sarri address the Kepa situation?
The football world was set alight during Sunday’s EFL Cup Final when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga apparently refused to be substituted in favour of Willy Caballero after going down with cramp right before the pivotal penalty shoot-out.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri went ballistic, and even seemed to be walking away from the game before returning, but even then defender Antonio Rudiger had to prevent him from confronting the goalkeeper.
Sarri has since blamed the incident on a simple misunderstanding of whether Kepa was actually injured or not, but it’s hard to buy that explanation given how angry the Italian looked on Sunday.
Wednesday’s team news will, therefore, be hugely interesting – pundits like Chris Sutton have called for Kepa to never play for the Blues again, but that seems unlikely. For Sarri to drop him in favour of Caballero wouldn’t be a huge shock though, so watch this space.
Can Kane keep up his insane goalscoring record?
Spurs talisman Harry Kane is perhaps the best pure goalscorer currently operating in the Premier League, and after a six-week absence with an ankle injury, he returned on Saturday against Burnley to register his 15th league goal of the season. Worryingly for Chelsea, Kane does have a tendency to score a glut of goals upon returning from injuries.
His goalscoring record after his three previous injuries goes something like this: 6 goals in 8 games, 11 goals in 8 games and 8 goals in 7 games. That suggests that some enforced time off doesn’t do the England captain any harm at all. Given Kane largely made his name in 2015 by scoring twice against the Blues, who would bet against him finding the net again on Wednesday?
Will Hudson-Odoi finally be unleashed?
One of the most contentious situations surrounding Chelsea this season has been the issue of whether youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi should be starting in Premier League action. Despite a handful of stellar showings in the cup competitions – the 18-year old has 2 goals and 1 assist in the Europa League – he’s still never started a league game and has only made 4 appearances from the bench.
Chelsea refused to sell Hudson-Odoi to Bayern Munich in January and ever since, the fans have been calling more and more for him to start, as question marks continue to surround the form of wide forwards Willian and Pedro. So could Wednesday finally be the match that sees Maurizio Sarri unleash the England youngster against Premier League opposition? If it is, Spurs could find themselves in trouble.
Can Pochettino keep his cool if things go wrong?
Saturday’s defeat against Burnley saw the usually mild-mannered Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino completely lose the plot, as he angrily confronted referee Mike Dean after the final whistle, apparently due to his decision to award Burnley a corner from which they scored their first goal.
Pochettino has since been charged by the FA for improper conduct due to the incident, while Dean has now been removed from his duties as 4th official for this upcoming game against Chelsea to avoid any further hostilities.
With the Argentine now facing a potential touchline ban for his actions, can Pochettino keep his cool if things don’t go Tottenham’s way on Wednesday? He has stated that he may have “crossed the line” on Saturday, but like with the Burnley game, there’s a lot at stake here.