Chelsea will aim to continue their winning streak against Spurs when both sides meet this weekend. PHOTO: AFP
Last weekend produced twenty goals in ten games and Sunderland recorded the biggest win with a 3-0 win over Hull City, while the London derby between Tottenham and West Ham produced the most goals with five. Surprisingly, the league’s highest scoring team, Liverpool, were involved in the weekend’s only goalless game as they played out a 0-0 draw with Southampton. Chelsea continued their winning streak with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough and also made it six consecutive games without conceding, while the heavyweight clash of the weekend between Manchester United and Arsenal was sort of an anti-climax and ended 1-1.
This weekend will witness a big London derby, when league leaders Chelsea host fifth placed Tottenham, who are just four points behind the blues in what should be a cracker this evening at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been on an incredible run of form after suffering consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal in September, since then they have reeled out six consecutive wins, with seventeen goals and six clean sheets. Antonio Conte switched to 3-4-3 after those back to back losses and that formation has worked like magic for the blues as the results have shown. The Italian has stuck faithfully to the same personnel since making the switch, the only change to the starting lineup since he started using this formation was bringing in Pedro for Willian, when the Brazilian was granted compassionate leave following a family bereavement and that has looked like a permanent change as Pedro seized the advantage and has started the last five premier league games and contributed two goals. Barring any last minute injuries, Chelsea’s starting lineup seems set in stone and we all know the personnel to expect in the different positions of the formation.
This hasn’t been the best of weeks for Tottenham and they would be hoping to end it with some positivity when they take on Chelsea at the Bridge. The lilywhites were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday when they lost 2-1 to Monaco and a defeat to Chelsea today will leave them trailing the blues with seven points. They are the only unbeaten team remaining in the league and would want to keep it that way, however last weekend’s dramatic 3-2 win over West Ham was their first win in five games following a four consecutive stalemates. Their main marksman Harry Kane, who had been out for an extended period returned recently and despite being amongst the goals in his last three games since his comeback, Spurs have only been able to garner just one win. They will need Harry Kane at his sharpest if they are to breach a Chelsea defence that hasn’t conceded in six games. Last season, they had a great defence (the joint best in the league with Manchester United) and that was one of the reasons for their solid display all through the season, they will need to be at their best defensively to shut out the dangerous Diego Costa and his cronies.
Stamford Bridge has been an unhappy hunting ground for Tottenham for almost three decades as the last time they came away with a victory there was on the 10th of February 1990, when Gary Lineker scored the winner for Spurs in a 2-1 win. This means that Tottenham have never won a league game at Chelsea in the history of the Premiership. The current run of 26 consecutive league games without a victory at Chelsea is the longest non-winning away run of consecutive games by one team at another team in the English top division. They have only managed nine league draws in that time, and 18 goals.
Of the Premier League’s seven ever-present clubs, Spurs are the only side not to have won at the home of one of the others, Chelsea. The Blues have a big advantage over the other teams chasing the league title as they did not qualify for Europe last season. It means they can fully concentrate on domestic competitions and gain from playing fewer matches. That will come in vital during the crunch time as we saw last season with Leicester City. Both teams are going to be up for this one so expect challenges flying in and a high-intensity game.
Liverpool against Sunderland at Anfield should be another game to watch out for this weekend. Liverpool temporarily held league leadership last weekend after the team won three consecutive matches. However, following their goalless draw against Southampton, they gave up the top spot to Chelsea, who beat Middlesbrough. Meanwhile, Sunderland won its second straight game for the first time this season, defeating Hull City, 3-0, at their home ground of the Stadium of Light and Liverpool should be wary of the blossoming partnership of Nigerian striker Victor Anichebe and English veteran Jermaine Defoe.
Other matches that will take place today will see bottom placed Swansea, who haven’t won at home this season (their only win so far this season was a 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor), take on a Crystal Palace team on a five match losing streak, Leicester City, who are on fire in Europe and can’t seem to replicate last season’s form domestically will host Middlesbrough, Hull, who were battered by Sunderland last weekend will host West Bromwich Albion and in the day’s early kickoff, Manchester City will be guests of Burnley at Turf Moor.
There will be four games played tomorrow and the pick of them will be Manchester United against West Ham at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho’s side have been able to pick just one win from their last six league games and have not won in their last three at home despite totally dominating their opponents. They will desperately need a victory to stay in touch with the leading pack and not kiss their title hopes goodbye. The Red Devils are currently nine points behind leaders Chelsea and won’t want to reduce that gap rather than let it be stretched. They need to start killing off their opponents and turning their dominance into victories. For West Ham, they will still be reeling from last weekend’s dramatic loss against Tottenham, a game which seemed to be going the hammers’ way until Harry Kane’s last minute double snatched the victory away from them. They haven’t been having the best of seasons and are just one point off the relegation zone. This is a far contrast from last season’s side which finished in seventh position.
There will be three other games tomorrow, Watford will host Stoke City. Both teams have only lost once each in their last six games and managed eleven points each in that run. The Hornets, who are six points below fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspurs, are coming off an impressive 2-1 win over defending champions Leicester City at home, while Stoke City were beaten 0-1 by Bournemouth at home. Odion Ighalo is still trying to get back into goal scoring form and this might just be a good opportunity for him to break his duck.
Arsenal will hope to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s draw at Old Trafford, when the host Bournemouth at the Emirates and Super Eagles’ striker, Alex Iwobi would hope to get back to the starting lineup after being left on the bench last weekend. He might even fancy getting his first premier league goal of the season in this fixture.
Southampton will host their former coach Ronald Koeman and his Everton side at St Mary’s and will hope to make it an unhappy return for the Dutchman. The Saints are winless in their last four games, but should draw some confidence and build on from last weekend’s credible 0-0 draw with Liverpool, while Everton will hope to get a win this weekend after earning a point at home against Swansea last weekend with a last- gasp equalizer.
We will see if this game week will produce more goals than the last one and hopefully more goals from our players based in England.