Chelsea hosting Tottenham Hotspur. Statistically the rarest away win in the Premier League, in as much as it's never happened. Chelsea's record at home to their biggest rivals is Played: 21, Won: 13, Drawn: 8. It's of vital importance for both sides to get a win in this fixture. Spurs are currently six points adrift of Arsenal and Liverpool for a Champions League place, if you exclude Manchester City, who are just four points ahead, but with two games in hand. A twenty-second failure to win at the Bridge would see them lose further ground to those leaders with just nine matches to come.
For Chelsea, every point between now and May is massive, but three points here would reduce the Top Four magic number to 16 points, as Tottenham's maximum potential total would slip to 80 points, behind Everton's 81. Of course, the title is the main focus this year, not the Top Four, but a win over Spurs would virtually seal it, if it isn't already. Beyond the implications for the title, of course, is the fact that beating a rival is simply always fun.
That said, the fact that they are rivals throws the form book out the window a bit, but not completely. Spurs have had an up-and-down season by any measure. Their pseudo-renaissance under Tim Sherwood has had them looking better than under the obviously-cursed Andre Villas-Boas, but they've still managed to make a slip up a not-uncommon occasion. Given the relative quality and form of the two sides, tomorrow should see a 22nd-consecutive failure to win for Spurs, but it should also be a tight match.
Through their inanity, the recent mid-week International fixtures could also play a vital role in the outcome tomorrow. Having players strewn across the world just days before and after Premier League matches isn't really the best situation, but, if there's a silver lining for Chelsea, it's that Spurs are a side full of internationals as well. Were I to hazard a guess, I'd say this isn't going to be one for the neutral. Two clubs suffering from post-international break hangovers, and derby nerves is a recipe for a dull start and possibly a dull match.
Either way, Chelsea-Spurs!
Opponent: Tottenham Hotspur, currently 5th with 53 points from 28 matches
Date/Time: Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 17:30 GMT (12:30 p.m. EST, 9:30 a.m. PST, 23:00 IST)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
Weather: Sunshine along with some cloudy intervals, warm temperatures.
Chelsea squad news: Marco van Ginkel is out, as usual, and joined by Ashley Cole, who was injured in training. David Luiz is also an injury doubt after his mid-week match with Brazil. Eden Hazard is fit.
Christian Eriksen, Younes Kaboul, and Kyle Walker are all of varying degrees of doubt, while Danny Rose, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches, and Etienne Capoue are all definite misses. Gylfi Sigurdsson is set to feature after a spell out through injury.squad news:
Television and streaming: Sky Sports 1 (UK), NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, and mun2 (US), Chelsea TV (Audio only for subscribers), Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD 2 (India), This link (everywhere else)