Pre-Match Briefing: Chelsea vs Tottenham

A busy January of fixtures comes to an end a little early with this weekend’s game. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton take a look at a familiar London derby…

Chelsea host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon for the 173rd instalment of a London derby that has been ferociously contested ever since a 2-1 home win on the Fulham Road – amid ‘cup-tie fervour’ and ‘partisan shouting between the rival factions’ – 112 years ago.

Spurs have won only once in their past 31 league trips to the Bridge, and have also lost nine of their past 13 matches against a top-four side such as the third-placed Blues (they drew the other four). However, Antonio Conte’s team earned a dramatic late win at Leicester on Wednesday and are now eight points behind the third-placed Blues with four games in hand.

There is nothing quite like a few days’ rest and the prospect of a hot derby on a cold day to restore tired bodies and minds. Especially as the Blues are unbeaten in 20 previous matches against seven former coaches in the Premier League era.

Tottenham (0) 0-1 (3) Chelsea (A) | Carabao Cup Highlights

Watch the highlights from our Carabao cup semi-final tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as we secured our place in the final at Wembley.

Having just ended our neighbours’ interest in one competition, Chelsea will be determined to return to claim all three points and peg back the Lilywhites’ top-four aspirations.

Chelsea are unbeaten in our past 10 games against Tottenham in all competitions (excluding penalty shoot-outs).


Chelsea team news

Remarkably, Tuesday’s draw at Brighton (a fixture brought forward from February) was the Londoners’ 12th outing since 11 December – four more than the team who have taken over at the top, Manchester City.

‘We are the team that plays and plays and plays,’ said Thomas Tuchel, explaining the two-day break he gave players afterwards. The FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year must hope recharged batteries will reduce the costly individual errors at both ends of the field in recent league outings.

Small margins have meant his team have not recorded a clean sheet for six league games and stopped creating the variety of good goalscoring opportunities they were. Few matches have the catalysing effect of this high-octane derby, though, and Chelsea have already beaten the visitors 3-0 on aggregate in the Carabao Cup this month.

The west Londoners lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation for both legs of the semi-final, and enjoyed almost two-thirds of ball possession home and away. Tuchel will be pleased his squad options are increasing, with centre-back Trevoh Chalobah back in training and wing-back Kenedy acclimatising after his return from loan.

Trevoh Chalobah back with the squad in training this week

Kepa Arrizabalaga (in for FIFA Best Goalkeeper Edou Mendy, still away with Senegal) repelled all shots in the reverse league fixture in September, a comfortable three-goal victory for the Blues, but N’Golo Kante may be in a starting 11 against Tottenham for the first time since November 2020.

A point and Hakim Ziyech’s fifth goal of the season was all the visitors could take away from Brighton, where we achieved our fourth lowest share of the ball on all fronts this season. The Seagulls’ headed equaliser was only the third goal Chelsea have conceded from a set-piece in the league campaign.

Perhaps because of fatigue the Blues have stopped pressing concertedly in the final third and Tuchel could decide to change the formula upfront. Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner would appreciate more minutes and Kai Havertz could begin his first game since opening the scoring against Spurs three weeks ago.

Havertz hitting the Tottenham net

This now forms the first of two all-London league clashes for Tuchel’s men either side of the Club World Cup. Chelsea top the table of top-flight derbies played so far and are the only team with a positive goal difference. Victory on Sunday would take the Blues to 501 points in Premier League derbies, the first side ever to pass the 500 mark.

Premier League London derby table
2West Ham63120101.67
6Crystal Palace7133-460.86

Stick or twist for Conte

Chelsea are Tottenham’s second toughest Premier League opponents, having beaten the Lilywhites 32 times. Despite Antonio Conte changing tactical approach against his former club between the two legs of the Carabao Cup semi-finals, Spurs have not found the net against Chelsea for 457 minutes in all competitions.

His familiar 3-4-3 system was easily beaten 2-0 in the opener at the Bridge, so he opted for three central midfielders in a 3-5-2 for the second leg. His team registered two shots on target in the first game and three in the second.

All the same, the best Spurs players over the tie were strike partners Lucas Moura and Harry Kane, who also formed the attacking duo at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday. Yet it was the unheralded substitute Steven Bergwijn who stole the points with a late brace of smart finishes within 80 seconds of each other.

Tottenham leaving it late at Leicester

Their weekend league fixture against Arsenal having been postponed, Tottenham looked more sprightly than in recent outings, though they faded in the second half until Bergwijn’s one-man show. They created more good goalscoring opportunities than in any game this season.

The Dutchman may have earned a start on Sunday, though little else has changed in terms of personnel. Heung-min Son, Cristian Romero and Eric Dier, whose range of passing from the back has been crucial to Conte’s direct approach, are still sidelined.

Davinson Sanchez is likely to remain in the middle of the back three, flanked by Japhet Tanganga and Ben Davies. Deprived of Dier’s leadership, the Cockerels were punished twice by the depleted Foxes for clumsy defending.

Sergio Reguilon returned from injury at left wing-back, taking responsibility for corners, but on the right Emerson Royal lasted one half before being replaced by Matt Doherty.

We have history

It was only ever a rumour that if Chelsea beat Tottenham three times we got to keep them, but here they are again. Four encounters with the fierce rivals in the same season has only happened six times before.

In 2001/02 the pair played each other five times in three different competitions. Although Spurs delivered a second-leg drubbing in the League Cup on this day at the Lane, the Blues roared back to lash the Lilywhites 4-0 twice in four days, in the FA Cup at the Lane and league at the Bridge.

In the second of those, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, mistakenly sent off in the League Cup loss, conjured a stunning ‘perfect hat-trick’ with his left foot, right foot and head.

HAT-TRICK HERO: Hasselbaink sinks Spurs

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink showed of his top class ability against Tottenham back in 2002 with this perfect hat-trick.

Most Chelsea-Tottenham matches in same season
1963/64Division 1Stamford BridgeL 0-3
Won 2/4FA Cup r3White Hart LaneD 1-1
 FA Cup r3 replayStamford BridgeW 2-0
 Division 1White Hart LaneW 3-1
1971/72Division 1Stamford BridgeW 1-0
Won 2/4League Cup sf 1lStamford BridgeW 3-2
 League Cup sf 2lWhite Hart LaneD 2-2
 Division 1White Hart LaneL 1-3
1990/91Division 1Stamford BridgeW 3-2
Won 2/4League Cup qfStamford BridgeD 0-0
 League Cup qf replayWhite Hart LaneW 3-0
 Division 1White Hart LaneD 1-1
2001/02Premier LeagueWhite Hart LaneW 3-2
Won 4/5League Cup sf 1lStamford BridgeW 2-1
 League Cup sf 2lWhite Hart LaneL 1-5
 FA Cup qfWhite Hart LaneW 4-0
 Premier LeagueStamford BridgeW 4-0
2006/07Premier LeagueWhite Hart LaneL 1-2
Won 2/4FA Cup qfStamford BridgeD 3-3
 FA Cup qf replayWhite Hart LaneW 2-1
 Premier LeagueStamford BridgeW 1-0
2018/19Premier LeagueWhite Hart LaneL 1-3
Won 2/4League Cup sf 1lWembleyL 0-1
 League Cup Sf 2lStamford BridgeW 2-1
 Premier LeagueStamford BridgeW 2-0
2021/22Premier LeagueWhite Hart LaneW 3-0
Won 3/3League Cup sf 2lTottenham Hotspur StdW 1-0
 League Cup sf 1lStamford BridgeW 2-0

Respite for UEFA players

A well-earned winter break follows this weekend for most but not all Chelsea players. The exceptions are non-Europeans Thiago Silva (two Brazil fixtures), Christian Pulisic (three with USA) and Edou Mendy, whose Senegal side play a Round of 16 match on Tuesday in the Africa Cup of Nations. Our international players last enjoyed a free midweek way back in mid-August.

Mendy in action in Africa during the week

Club World Cup approaches

Chelsea can be three trophies to the good this season by the end of next month. The opening exchanges of the Club World Cup take place during the international break, local side Al Jazira taking on Pirae of Tahiti on Thursday 3 February at 4.30pm UK time.

Meanwhile, a roadshow is touring United Arab Emirates shopping centres to raise awareness of the delayed tournament, which was only switched to Abu Dhabi in November. On show will be official mascot Dhabi, a gazelle, and the trophy itself, designed by the Fattorini company in Birmingham.

Kane still outgunned

England have no matches during this international break but last season Tottenham’s Harry Kane scored 16 goals for his country in a calendar year, apparently beating the 113-year-old record set by Chelsea's ‘Gatling gun’ George Hilsdon of 12.

However back in 1908 the prolific Pensioner, 22 at the time, racked up his dozen in just six fixtures, averaging two per match. The Spurs striker’s tally came from 16 matches in 2021, or one per game.

Chelsea's George Hilsdon, in early Chelsea kit

Matchweek 23 Premier League fixtures and result

Watford 0 Norwich 3

Everton v Aston Villa 12.30pm (BT Sport)
Brentford v Wolves 3pm
Leeds v Newcastle 3pm
Man Utd v West Ham 3pm
Southampton v Man City 5.30pm (Sky Sports)

Arsenal v Burnley 2pm
Crystal Palace v Liverpool 2pm (Sky Sports)
Leicester v Brighton 2pm
Chelsea v Tottenham 4.30pm (Sky Sports)

Premier League 2021/2022
1Manchester City22182254134156
4West Ham United22114741301137
6Tottenham Hotspur1810352320333
7Manchester United209563229332
8Wolverhampton Wanderers209471715231
10Leicester City187473133-225

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