Over the course of Chelsea's six-game clean sheet run, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had little work to do. In those six matches, Chelsea not only didn't concede a goal, the defense conceded just nine shots on target in total. Meanwhile, Chelsea had 40 attempts at the other end.
Things weren't quite as easy for Courtois and Chelsea's defenders in Saturday's match, as Tottenham ended our clean sheet streak just past the 10-hour mark with their second shot on goal already in the first eleven minutes. In the end, Chelsea were outshot by Spurs five to six, though Chelsea worked the better actual chances and took home all three points thanks to goals from Pedro and Victor Moses.
After the derby win, Courtois joined the chorus of the game-by-game, though he also played down the significance of this weekend's massive top of the table clash against Manchester City. After all, three points are three points, regardless of whether they come against the big teams or the minnows. (Ed. note: that said, three points against City would have the added benefit of also denying three points to City, which could have major implications later on — a title-challenge six pointer, if you will.)
"We are taking it match by match. It’s quite hard to keep a run going in this league but after the couple of matches we lost we have won seven in a row which is very good."
"Now we are going to Man City to try and get another result, and then after it the next away games are at Sunderland and Crystal Palace, and it is games like those that decide if you are going to be champions or not."
"You can win big matches even if you’re not having a good season, because it is a big match or a derby, but it is the smaller matches against difficult adversaries that you will see if you are going to be champions or not."
Given City's excellent attack (joint-second with Chelsea for goals scored), it would probably be unrealistic to expect a clean sheet for Chelsea this weekend. So while Courtois & Co will no doubt do their best to keep things tidy in defence, if the Blues are to pull off an unlikely victory, we might just have to try to outscore the hosts. Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa both have 10 goals on the season — whoever manages to do better on Saturday could go a long ways towards determining the eventual outcome.
"Since January, [Diego] has scored a lot of goals even when the team were not having a great season. And this year he is strong, he has movement, he always tests the opposition defence, and for the second goal it was a great move from him and a nice assist for Moses."
-Thibaut Courtois; Source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea have shown tremendous balance since switching to the 3-4-3 system; we'll need it to be working as well as it ever has to walk out of the Etihad with all three points.