Key Player Battles: Chelsea v Spurs


I have never heard the phrase ‘biggest match in recent history’ as much as I have done in the last week. Tomorrow night’s clash at Stamford Bridge could either see the end of our Champions League aspirations, or it could see our chances radically improve. Spurs go into this game on sketchy form; they haven’t lost in open play for a long time, but they were hardly convincing at home to Southampton on Saturday. The following player battles could well prove vital.

Gareth Bale v John Obi Mikel

With Chelsea favouring a 4-2-3-1 formation this season under Rafa Benitez, there has been room for 2 deep-lying midfielders; the Nigerian Mikel has routinely been chosen as the more defensive of the two. We all saw on Saturday how just a yard of space given to the Welshman can be costly; Mikel will be charged with the unenviable task of keeping Bale quiet on Wednesday evening. It won’t matter if Chelsea score a couple if Bale scores 3 – he is clearly Spurs’ most dangerous threat and he needs stopping.

Juan Mata v Kyle Walker

In the home version of this tie, Walker had a torrid time attempting to defend against the little Spaniard, eventually leading to deletion of his twitter account due to excessive abuse. With Mata being Chelsea’s best player by a country mile this season, it is essential that Walker nullifies his impact on the game; in a match of such monumental importance, one minor error could be fatal.

Clint Dempsey v Cesar Azpilicueta

To the dismay of many Spurs fans, I will be extremely surprised if this man’s name is not on the teamsheet. And also, I will actually be disappointed. If you regularly read my articles, you will notice that I love that he has an uncanny habit of scoring important goals – and I think tomorrow could be his chance. Equalisers against Manchester City and Manchester United at home have both come because he has lost the full-back that is supposed to be marking him (Evra and Zabaleta) and pounced with a goal. It is crucial for Chelsea’s Spanish right-back that he is vigilant and disciplined.


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