The Premier League leaders head to White Hart Lane on Saturday lunch time to meet Andre Villas-Boas for the first time since he was sacked by the club in March. Since then the Blues have had the small matter of the first European Cup ever to be delivered to the capital, and a new playing style that is already starting to win over the pundits.
Arguably AVB’s Spurs will represent the sternest test of the free flowing, attacking Chelsea to date, and a win will not be easy. It is incredible to think that a trip to Tottenham used to be a foregone conclusion, but not since 2005 have the Blues left with all the points. If they are to break that duck, Di Matteo and co will have to do so possibly without Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand, who are still carrying the injuries and illness that led to the pair withdrawing from England duty. John Terry will also be missing as he starts his four game ban.
The reasons to be positive come in the shape of the attacking line, with Fernando Torres the club’s top scorer with 6 in all competitions the Spaniard is without doubt moving in the right direction, and his every improving link-up with the creative trio behind him will cause the Spurs back line plenty of problems. Missing Scott Parker, the likes of Sandro will have their work cut out tracking the movement of Mata, Hazard and Oscar.
Tottenham are on form yes, after 4 wins on the bounce, but the Blues can match and better that with 5 in a row in all competitions, and the recent victory at the Emirates where Chelsea never looked truly troubled give those from SW6 real confidence, and with good reason. This is the start of an important period for Di Matteo and his players, with an awkward looking trip to Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek before two games in four days against Manchester United. A win at White Hart Lane, where Spurs have only lost 2 of their last 22 league matches would send out a real statement to the rest of the Premier League. Fernando Torres declared after the victory at Arsenal that one of the priorities this season was to win more games against the fellow top clubs, so positive intent should not just be hoped for, it is to be expected.
In terms of milestones, Ramires could make his 100th Chelsea appearance, while if Frank Lampard can defy the doctors and recent team sheets the vice captain could make his 500th Premier League start.
The consensus so far among the predictors has been for goals, but Chelsea’s strong defensive record, even without Terry could suggest otherwise. In truth, Chelsea fans would take a 1-0 now because a win at the Lane is always worth cherishing!