PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V CHELSEA - PART ONE
The main act is on first when it comes to this weekend's league programme. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton get the stage ready and light the lights…
The Premier League is currently presenting a decent impersonation of a horserace, with runners and riders hitting fences, remounting and catching up the leaders. Five teams have amassed double figures in points and every one of them has been beaten once.
Still, only the brave or foolhardy would heavily back any horse right now. At the same stage last season the leading pack included Everton, West Brom and Fulham, who wound up sixth, eighth and 12th respectively. Chelsea were top and Man United fifth.
Blues v Lilywhites, Sorcerer v Apprentice, fourth versus second sets up the biggest match of the weekend even if it is a 12.45 kick-off. Midday games, with their change of matchday rhythm, sometimes struggle to set the dancefloor alight, like a nightclub with the lights on.
Hosts Spurs are doing their best to bust a move by talking up their title hopes but there is ground to make up. It is now 52 years since Spurs last won the league - a longer period than Chelsea fans have ever had to suffer. The Lilywhites have been champions just twice since joining the Football League Division Two in 1908, three years after the Pensioners, who have won been crowned champions four times.
Chelsea's Europa League triumph last season means the Blues' 19-trophy haul has eased further ahead of that of our north London rivals with 17, five in Europe against their three. The White Hart Lane outfit remain ahead in the FA Cup, eight wins to seven.
Chelsea also have a remarkable record against Spurs in the Premier League era, claiming 23 wins to the Lilywhites' three and 16 draws, along with 77 goals against 36.
West London lost out three times in four visits between 2006 and 2010 but normal service was resumed with a 4-2 triumph last season for which Gareth Bale was unavailable. Underwritten by Bale's sale Spurs have added to the complements of Belgian and Brazilian internationals on both sides that day.
Since then the departures of Steven Caulker, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, and Aaron Lennon's injury have slightly diminished the British influence at the Lane.
Progress in the Capital One Cup was earned with the Blues' first away win of the season, but we will aim to bag our first away league goals of the season at this often happy hunting ground.
Saturday's match is the second of four successive road trips for the Blues. The fourth round cup draw did not bring any home comforts either, taking Chelsea away from home for the second time in the competition. The possibility of ending Arsenal's trophy hopes is always a mouthwatering prospect, but the meeting does complicate the diaries of both clubs.
Chelsea will have to deal with Schalke home and away, Man City at the Bridge, the Emirates, and West Brom at home in a little over two-and-a-half weeks spilling into November. Over the same period Arsenal will face Dortmund (h), Palace (a), Chelsea (h), Dortmund (a) and Man Utd (a).
Much was made (as usual) of Arsenal's youth in midweek yet the average age of the Gunners that edged out West Brom was 24. Chelsea's at the County Ground was 26.5, largely as a result of the inclusion of goalie Mark Schwarzer. At 40 years and 354 days the Australian became our oldest-ever debutant as well as our oldest first teamer.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Tottenham v Chelsea 12.45pm - BT Sport
Aston Villa v Manchester City 3pm
Fulham v Cardiff 3pm
Hull v West Ham 3pm
Manchester United v West Brom 3pm
Southampton v Crystal Palace 3pm
Swansea v Arsenal 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Stoke v Norwich 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Sunderland v Liverpool 4pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Newcastle 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top six|
|Big six mini league|
Chelsea's defeat at Everton was our only reverse in 13 Barclays Premier League matches.
We have won three, drawn two and lost one of our last six away top-flight league games.
|Last six results|
|Aug 26||Manchester United (a)||D 0-0|
|Aug 30||Bayern Munich (Super Cup) lost 4-5 on pens||D 2-2|
|Sep 14||Everton (a)||L 0-1|
|Sep 18||Basel (Champions League h)||L 1-2|
|Sep 21||Fulham (h)||W 2-0|
|Sep 24||Swindon (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
League games since
An away win: 2
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0
|Chelsea's next three games|