Two matches, one big day, one giant possibility for Chelsea to have the Premier League trophy sitting in the Stadium next Sunday. Chelsea visit White Hart Lane to face a rejuvenated Spurs side with both sides knowing the result that they need. Both teams will have their attentions turned toward Eastlands to see the result of a derby that will have implications on both teams. However, both Carlo Ancelotti and Harry Redknapp know that a win means everything in this match.
Spurs enter the match one point behind Manchester City for the all-important fourth spot and are just one goal behind in goal difference. They are also buoyed by their win midweek against rivals Arsenal in an emphatic 2-1 win at the Lane. Hero of the day Danny Rose looks set to miss out due to a knee injury and Spurs will also be missing the services of Niko Kranjcar, Jermaine Jenas, Aaron Lennon, and Jonathan Woodgate due to long-term injuries.
However, Spurs still have plenty of firepower and creativity. Jermaine Defoe remains their leading goal scorer with 23 goals in all competitions and is relishing his role, playing off bigger strikers like Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch. Since returning from injury in December, Luka Modric has provided the spark of creativity in the midfield that Spurs lacked in his absence.
Chelsea, meanwhile, know that a United loss on Saturday would mean that they could win the Premier League as early as next week. They are also in tremendous form, having only met defeat against Inter a month ago. Ancelotti has started to live up to his reputation as a manager after that defeat and his tactical nous is beginning to show through. His new rotating diamond has worked wonders as the Blues have responded with solid play.
Their win against Bolton was the kind of performance that marks a champion. They weren’t at their best, but they were able to get the result needed, though credit to Bolton for a strong defense.
Chelsea’s only main concern has been injuries, but the list is beginning to thin a bit. Branislav Ivanovic is back in training and should be available soon after his knee problem. Ashley Cole is also training against and should be ready to play as early as next week. Only Juliano Belletti and Michael Essien remain on the long-term injury list, though whispers are that the latter may be ready for a cameo against Liverpool.
The recipe for a great match is already there. Both teams need a win to keep their aspirations alive and it should be an entertaining affair. This fixture usually is.