The warm February draws to a close with a hot capital-city clash. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton have the derby details…
Today is the 25th anniversary of one of the great Chelsea-Tottenham ding-dongs, when Mark Stein’s supersonic penalty earned a 4-3 victory for Glenn Hoddle’s Blues (see our History section later for more).
Our teams have had differing fortunes since that season, but Tottenham arrive with a 10-point advantage in the current Premier League and could finish as London’s top dogs for the second season running, although possibly with no silverware to go with it.
Tonight’s match is the first of consecutive capital clashes for both teams. On Sunday Chelsea travel to Fulham for the west London derby and the day before, the Lilywhites host Arsenal. Four of Spurs’ 11 remaining fixtures are all-London affairs.
Eden Hazard has netted six goals in his past 13 games against Tottenham in all competitions.
— Key stat
Hazard has been fouled 74 times in the league alone this season, the most in the top flight as ever. Across all competitions, 24 players have been booked for fouls against the Belgian, 17 more than any other player.
With a much-improved performance, the Blues were a few kicks away from lifting the 25th major trophy in our history in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, but it was not to be. As a result, a place in one of next season’s European competitions is yet to be confirmed.
Congratulations to winners Manchester City, who also look hardwired into a Champions League position, which would mean their Europa League qualification (earned by Sunday’s result) passing down to the team that finishes sixth in the Premier League.
The Citizens, as well as Manchester United, in fifth, are still in with a chance of scooping the FA Cup and its Europa League pass. Should either of them do so the UEFA slots will stretch as far as seventh.
Of course Chelsea are still targeting Europe’s elite competition come September, which can be secured either by winning the Europa League or finishing fourth.
Sunday’s final featured another VAR talking point when the referee stopped play with Eden Hazard closing in on goal. Unfortunately, the assistant had raised a flag for a very marginal offside – despite the protocol being to allow tight decisions on goalscoring opportunities to run on and then review them later. The contrast with Harry Kane’s VAR-reviewed goal in the semi-final first leg at Wembley was not lost on Blues staff and supporters.
Europa League Catch-Up
Next week’s Europa League opponents Dynamo Kiev, currently second in the Ukraine Premier League behind Shakhtar, returned from their 10-week winter break by thrashing fourth-placed Zorya 5-0 on Monday.
Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino has accepted an FA charge of improper conduct and publicly apologised to Mike Dean for his confrontation with the referee after the Lilywhites' defeat at Burnley last weekend.
The Argentinean could still be present on the touchline this evening, however, as he had until 6pm tomorrow to respond. (Dean, who was set to act as tonight’s fourth official, was moved to another game.)
His frustration was evident after Spurs lost their third consecutive match on the road in all competitions, a sequence that began with the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at tonight’s ground. Before then they were 1-0 down at Craven Cottage before recovering to win 2-1 – the first of four successive games on the road in which they did not score before the break.
In each of the four league games between defeats to Man United and the one at Turf Moor, Spurs grabbed late goals, three of them match-winners. As a result they are still yet to draw, but no club has won the title with as many losses as Spurs’ seven since the number of league games dropped from 42 to 38 in 1995.
Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham travel tonight to Southampton, a team one place but seven points above them in the table, ahead of the west London derby on Sunday.
Subsidised £10 travel is available for supporters wishing to attend Chelsea Women’s FA Cup quarter-final tie at Durham Ladies on Sunday 17 March, a noon kick-off.
UEFA Youth League opponents Montpellier are debutants in the Under-19s competition, but Chelsea Women knocked their club-mates out of last season's Women's Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
When the Europa League draw was made on a Friday, Chelsea were paired with Kiev, then Arsenal with Rennes, both the first legs due to be played in London on 7 March. When clubs who share a city are scheduled to host games on the same evening, UEFA can order a change of kick-off time or date.
So last Thursday the Gunners were ordered to start early at 5.55pm to avoid a clash with Chelsea-Malmo at 8pm, and after Friday’s draw the north Londoners had to swap the order of games with their opponents, and will now play in France first.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS EVENING…
The Blues back in the top four.
Tonight's Premier League fixtures
Arsenal v Bournemouth 7.45pm
Southampton v Fulham 7.45pm
Chelsea v Tottenham 8pm - BT Sport
Crystal Palace v Manchester United 8pm
Liverpool v Watford 8pm
Manchester City v West Ham 8pm