I think we’re all with Dele Alli on this one. It’s huge.
It’s only game-week 2 of the new Premier League season and already we’re building up to what may play out to be one of the pivotal ties of our campaign. Spurs vs Chelsea is always a grand occasion, but events only as far back as just a few seasons ago have added a real spot-light on tomorrow’s game.
There’s always something at stake against Chelsea with us. In 2015-16, it was our title hopes, which were cruelly crushed by a 2 goal comeback from, what was at the time, a mid-table Chelsea in crisis. In 2016-17 it was one unbeaten start to the season and one Premier League successive wins record, both of which were lost at the hands of their London rivals. Back in April it was FA Cup glory, which eventually neither side went on to win.
This time it’s the much talked-about debut of Wembley Stadium in the Premier League as our temporary home. Our fortress White Hart Lane is gone, and until our new one is built, we must make Wembley our home, which as we all know, is easier said than done.
Our Wembley record is a tear-jerker. Remember back in 2008? When Woodgate headed in that winning goal in extra-time against Chelsea in the League Cup final? That was the first final ever to be held at the new Wembley stadium. If only that had been a sign of things to come. Unfortunately it wasn’t. Our next win at Wembley came in 2016 against CSKA Moscow in last season’s dismal Champions League campaign after a run of 7 straight defeats in a row at the national stadium.
The ‘Wembley factor’ is the main reason pundits don’t see us challenging for the title again this season. It’ll effect the boys’ mentality, that’s for sure. A bad result here could cause a few more to come. We mustn’t get off on the wrong foot, or the heads could drop. Playing at Wembley can easily become a hindrance and not a luxury if we cannot put the ‘Wembley factor’ to bed in our first ‘home’ game of the season.
Usually, Chelsea would be licking their lips at this. As a Spurs fan, there is no team we’d dread to face at Wembley any more than the Blues. Since beating them in the League Cup final a decade ago, Chelsea have played us 3 times at the national stadium and beaten us 3 times. 11 goals conceded, 3 goals scored, it really makes grim reading. However, Chelsea fans have had their own grim reading to be doing of late given their calamitous (yet hilarious) opening week of the new season.
Antonio Conte couldn’t have wished for a worse way to begin the defence of his hard-earned title, losing 3-2 at home to last season’s 16th placed finishers Burnley, watching 2 experienced players get sent off (including the captain), only then to be slagged off by Diego Costa who claimed he’d rather get fat in Brazil than play for Chelsea. They’re in a bit of trouble themselves, whereas we calmly swept aside Newcastle at St James’ Park last week 2-0, something we’ve proved in the past can be very difficult, especially when they go down to ten men…
So, apart from what’s been said in the media or even by our own players, I’m not sure at all how all these factors will influence the game. Will Chelsea be weak and fragile little boys, or will they show the character of champions and stand up to the test? Will Tottenham make a statement of intent and prove our critics wrong, or will they bottle it like our history at Wembley suggests?
In regards to team news, its more good news than bad, as Chelsea will be without the aforementioned Diego Costa, who if I may repeat myself, would rather get fat in Brazil than receive another text message from Antonio Conte. Also supposedly missing out is Eden Hazard through injury, as well as Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas who were suspended in last week’s catastrophic defeat to Burnley. Victor Moses and Tiemoue Bakayoko are both doubts, but could realistically feature given Conte’s lack of other options (26 players out on loan…).
Whereas where we’re concerned, its just Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou who’re definitely out of the game. Spurs informed us earlier in the week that Kieran Trippier would be scanned, and although we’ve heard no solid updates as of yet, there seems to be a lot of optimism from the Tottenham camp over the right-back’s fitness.
But you know what? I’d be tempted to play Kyle Walker-Peters instead regardless of Trippier’s condition. He’ll be brimming with confidence after last week’s man of the match display. He’s an energetic young-gun and he won the Under 20s World Cup with England during the Summer, I don’t think he’s afraid of Wembley, or Chelsea for that matter. Don’t punish him by dropping him to the bench, let it play out I say.
Asides from that there are no fresh injury concerns for Pochettino to ponder, so now the time has come for me to make my prediction. It’s a massive game for both sides, both teams needs to send out a message. But also, both sides absolutely have to avoid defeat tomorrow, and I think that’ll have the biggest influence on the game bar none. So I’m being a coward and calling a 1-1 draw. If there is to be a winner though, I think it’ll be Spurs. Chelsea are rocked, and if some 70,000 Spurs fans get on their backs, the flood-gates may open.
So I’m saying 1-1, but if there’s a winner it’s Spurs. It may even end up being quite comfortable if I’m wrong. I hope I am. Do you think I’m wrong? What’s your prediction?
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