For most of the Chelsea international players the travelling for midweek has thankfully been minimal. Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole only had to make their way home from Wembley. Eden Hazard was in Brussels, Andre Schurrle Stuttgart, Cesar Azpilicueta Madrid, Petr Cech Prague, Demba Ba France, Samuel Eto'o Portugal, Mohamed Salah Austria, and Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic Ireland.
However our Brazilians David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires and Willian (plus Tottenham's Paulinho) had a long haul back from South Africa and John Mikel Obi has crossed the Atlantic and back to play in the USA.
Despite the obvious extra demands on the players, Chelsea have won three and lost one of the four league games immediately following the international games. Spurs' record is identical - although their sole loss was the 0-6 thrashing at City.
This is Tim Sherwood's 13th match since landing his first lead role as a manager and he plays a less cautious brand of football than his predecessor. Over the 11 weeks to date he has consistently changed formation in response to the opposition and in order to accommodate five men in midfield, two wingers or two strikers upfront. It sometimes seems the switching produces mixed messages in key areas.
The 4-1-4-1 set-up used in the setback at Norwich gave way last weekend to a 4-4-2 in the narrow, disjointed win against Cardiff at home. Any two of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele, the returning Sandro or 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb can be outmanoeuvred by superior numbers in the middle.
Manchester City only get away with 4-4-2 because of the exceptional power of Toure and Fernandinho and the work-rate of their forwards. Even that duo was overpowered by Chelsea's Matic and David Luiz, as were Sidwell and Parker last weekend at Craven Cottage.
Roberto Soldado may sometimes be tasked with dropping back to help out but that is not his natural game. He did, though, hit the winner at home to Cardiff - his first from open play since October 2013.
Emmanuel Adebayor (pictured below) has been in ferocious form since his rehabilitation under Sherwood and has five in five in all competitions. Chelsea will also be aware of his fondness for playing with his back to goal and laying the ball off for others. Not to mention his deceptive body language: the Togo international looked disinterested during the Lilywhites' loss at Norwich but was star man of the next game against Dnipro.
Sherwood prefers his defence to play high up the pitch which as, Fulham found to their cost, can play into Chelsea's hands. His side are vulnerable to rapid counter-attacks through the middle and centre-back Michael Dawson, in particular, does not have recovery pace.
The Blues should also have the edge in the air at set-plays. A third of Chelsea's attempts on goal at the Lane in September were created from free kicks and corners (including John Terry's equaliser after a foul by Jan Vertonghen on Ramires); none of Spurs' were.
Successful campaigns often require different players to come to the fore throughout their course and Schurrle is seizing his moment as well as linking quite brilliantly with Hazard, who astutely put him through for two of the goals and produced yet more edge-of-seat moments.
However the laxness in the Blues' box on the goals at Craven Cottage and in Istanbul will make Mourinho and his staff extra vigilant against a return to the lapses of autumn.
Out wide, Spurs' full-backs like to roam forward and contribute to their attacking options but are not resilient defensively. Mourinho will be more wary of their wide players Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend, whose darting runs caused plenty of problems in our September meeting. Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Cockerels' goalscorer that day, returned from injury last week.
Christian Eriksen missed Tottenham's Cardiff game last weekend with a back injury. They appeared to miss his creativity against an obdurate Welsh side. The midfielder has a chance of returning today, as do centre-half Younes Kaboul and right-back Kyle Walker (although the latter withdrew from Wednesday's England squad).
Hugo Lloris has missed just one league game to date and has kept as many clean sheets in the league as Petr Cech (12) despite the Lilywhites conceding 50 per cent more goals (33) than Chelsea (22). Man City have put 11 past the France international and Liverpool five.
- March's Score Predictor prize is a Samsung Galazy Note II - plus it's double points month.
The Blues are seeking to extend our unbeaten league record to 14 games since our last defeat at Stoke on 7 December.
Chelsea have the tightest defence in the Barclays Premier League, conceding only 22 goals in 28 games including 12 clean sheets.
Since the November international break, the Blues have won 42 points from a possible 51, more than any other club.
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, still the best record in the Premier League.
The Blues have won 15 and drawn two of the 18 league games we have opened the scoring.
The Blues are 10 points up compared with the corresponding 28 fixtures last season.
We have kept 10 clean sheets and conceded just seven goals in our last 16 games in all competitions.
Chelsea have won 19 and drawn four of our last 23 home Premier League games since QPR won at Stamford Bridge on 2 January last year.
Jose Mourinho is unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in all 90 domestic games in open play.
|Last six results|
||Newcastle (h)||W 3-0|
|Feb 11||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
|Feb 15||Manchester City (FA Cup a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 22||Everton (h)||W 1-0|
|Feb 26||Galatasaray (Champions League a)||D 1-1|
|Mar 1||Fulham (a)||W 3-1|
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 2
A home defeat: 23
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sat 15 Mar||Aston Villa away||5.30pm|
|Tue 18 Mar||Galatasaray (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 22 Mar||Arsenal home||12.45pm|
Samuel Eto'o's next goal will be the 300th of his club career (Leganes 4, Real Mallorca 68, Barcelona 130, Inter Milan 53, Anzhi Makhachkala 36, Chelsea 8).
Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
If selected, Lampard will play his 573rd career Premier League match and move ahead of David James as second all-time Premier League appearance maker behind Ryan Giggs (629). It will also be his 400th Premier League start for Chelsea.
Congratulations to Samuel Eto'o who celebrates his 33rd birthday on Monday and to Marko Marin who turns 25 on 13 March.
2 League championships, last in 1961
8 FA Cups, last in 1991
4 League Cups, last in 2008
7 FA Charity/Community Shields (3 shared), last in 1991
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1963
2 UEFA Cups, last in 1984
Spurs' best seasons in the Premier League were fourth in 2009/10 and 2011/12.
Tottenham have the best away record in the Premier League with most wins (nine) and 29 points from 14 games, three points more than Arsenal and four more than Chelsea. They have only conceded 15 away goals which is bettered only by Chelsea.
Their wins have been at Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland, Southampton, Man Utd, Swansea and Newcastle, two draws at Everton and Hull and three defeats at Arsenal, Man City and Norwich.
Tottenham have only dropped six points from winning positions
They have won one point fewer than at the same stage last season.
Tottenham have won 13 and not lost any of the 16 games when they opened the scoring.
Spurs have not won this season when losing at half-time.
Manager Tim Sherwood
Days in charge: 82
|Spurs' last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Everton (h)||W 1-0|
|Feb 12||Newcastle (a)||W 4-0|
|Feb 20||Dnipro (Europa League a)||L 0-1|
|Feb 23||Norwich (a)||L 0-1|
|Feb 27||Dnipro (Europa League h)||W 3-1|
|Mar 2||Cardiff (h)||W 1-0|
Premier League scorers (37)
Adebayor 8, Soldado 6 (4 pens), Paulinho 4, Eriksen 3, Sigurdsson 3, own goals 3, Capoue 1, Chadli 1, Chiriches 1, Defoe 1, Dembele 1, Holtby 1, Lennon 1, Sandro 1, Townsend 1, Walker 1.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 2
An away defeat: 0
Tottenham's completed January transfers
Outs Simon Dawkins (Derby County, £500,000), Shaquile Coulthirst (Leyton Orient, loan), Jonathan Obika (Brighton, loan), Ryan Fredericks (Millwall, loan), Adam Smith (Bournemouth, undisclosed), Lewis Holtby (Fulham, loan).
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Michael Oliver is the official for his third Blues game this term. His most recent was our 3-1 home win against Southampton in December, the other being the 2-0 at Swindon in the Capital One Cup three months earlier.
There are no suspensions.
- Watch exclusive pre-match build-up and live commentary of the game in Chelsea TV's 'Pre-Match at the Bridge' Show. Sky Digital customer can watch the show for free on channel 421.