The master and the apprentice shape up against each other as Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas lock horns in what should prove to be a tight affair on Saturday. Of course both were apprentices to the brilliant Sir Bobby Robson but both will be looking to showcase their individual skills on the weekend.
Chelsea looked the less impressive of the two sides during the midweek Capital One Cup ties, barely seeing off Swindon Town. The League One side played some impressive football and Chelsea never looked like they were in complete control. Tottenham meanwhile were impressive as they smashed Aston Villa 4-0 with a fairly rotated side.
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Following the cup-tie Chelsea have been rocked by the news that Marco van Ginkel will be out for the rest of the season. Van Ginkel is by no means a starter at Stamford Bridge but he would have benefitted from some playing time with the first team. The other problem is that Ramires looks like he won’t be fit for Saturday either. That leaves Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel as the three fit central midfielders. Given that Essien played the full 90 minutes on Tuesday the odds are that Lampard and Mikel will start in midfield with Hazard, Oscar and Schurrle in front of them.
The real conundrum for Jose Mourinho is who to play upfront. Ever since Samuel Eto’o signed it has been the Cameroonian who has started but so far he is yet to impress. Mourinho has put that down to Eto’o being rusty because he has spent the most recent part of his career in Russia. The thing is, if Eto’o wasn’t going to be able to make an instant impact what was the point in signing him? The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker is 32 now so he is clearly nothing more than a short-term option but he’s a pretty pointless short-term option if he needs time to settle. Fernando Torres scored one and set up another in the League Cup fixture against Swindon and he generally looked lively. The Spaniard could have had a hat-trick and he spurned some good chances but his work rate could be key in putting the Spurs back line under pressure.
As for Tottenham well their only real injury concern is at full-back. Danny Rose is in a race to be fit for the match whilst Zeki Fryers had to fill in against Villa. If Rose doesn’t recover Kyle Naughton will probably deputise and this is the area Chelsea should look to target. Eden Hazard or Andre Schurrle will have to make sure they do their defensive work on the opposite flank though as Kyle Walker loves to bomb forward.
Spurs’ current strength lies in their midfield, with new signing Christian Eriksen looking particularly dangerous. It is likely that the two sides will play with a similar formation, probably lining up with a 4-2-3-1. In Chelsea’s only other clash against a big side Mourinho asked Oscar to drop him more regularly to create a 4-3-3. This may well happen again on Saturday and the Brazilian’s work rate could be crucial in stopping Tottenham play.
If the home side win the gap between the two sides will be five points and although it is early in the season it could end up being crucial at the end of the season. If Chelsea want to win the title they need to beat their rivals, especially away from home. Against Manchester United both sides looked flat, perhaps because it was only the second game of the season but in Tottenham Chelsea will face a team in form. If the Blues don’t bring their A-game then they will be punished.