Just 72 hours after the drama of the League Cup final, Chelsea welcome Spurs to the Bridge, hoping that the match, our fourth test against them this season, will serve just as much of a turning point as our first meeting did.
Three months ago as the days slowly turned from autumn to winter, Chelsea made short trip to Never Done Lane Wembley. The Blues were inconsistent but unbeaten (12 in the league; 18 in all competitions). Since then, we’ve just been inconsistent. Including that 3-1 defeat, Chelsea have won just 7 of 14 in the league (14 of 25 in all competitions). And it’s getting worse: Chelsea have just 2 wins from 6 Premier League matches in 2019.
As in late November, Chelsea head into this match on the back of 0-0 draw. But this draw, despite the Kepa shenanigans, feels a lot better than that 0-0 draw versus Everton. And if there is one thing we learned this season, it’s that to a great extent, results are all about confidence and belief regardless of tactics.
Do we believe?
Date / Time: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 20:00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Andre Marriner — a familiar face, a familiar name, back for the third time this season after the 1-1 against Liverpool and the 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup (zero yellows in those 180 minutes). Marriner was also in charge of this fixture last season (with Spurs winning at the Bridge for the first time in forever) and in 2010-11 as well when Salomon Kalou scored an offside winner. Good omens, bad omens, but we could use some decent refereeing after the nonsense in the Europa League as well as from Jon Moss (with VAR!) in the League Cup final.
Forecast: Sunny, almost warm day, cool night.
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo (affiliate link — USA only)
Chelsea team news: Other than general fitness concerns stemming from having had to play 120 intense minutes on Sunday, the only specific concern is Davide Zappacosta’s status though a) he’s unlikely to play and b) he’s surely over his stomach flu or whatever by now.
A bigger question surrounds Chelsea’s morale and mentality, especially after the remarkable scenes that played out between the head coach and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga Sunday night, and then the emotional letdown of the defeat itself in the penalty shootout. Kepa has been fined a week’s wages for his conduct (even if he was “right” in terms of the actual injury), but he may still be picked to play tonight (Sarri’s letting the team decide, apparently).
Whether it’s Kepa or Caba who’s the keepa, Chelsea and Sarri need this win like none other so far this season. The head coach may have earned a “stay of execution” after the weekend, but another loss to Spurs (or any other team at this point) could see him fall through the thin ice immediately.
Spurs team news: Despite the surprisingly loss to Burnley over the weekend — and the subsequent disciplinary action incoming for Mauricio “not that type of character” Pochettino after his confrontation with referee Mike Dean — it’s looking like Spurs will coast easily into a third place finish in the Premier League and may yet make a few waves in Europe after an excellent 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League match-up.
Harry Kane is back in action and back in the goals, but Dele Alli and Eric Dier will miss out. Dele has an annoying habit of scoring against Chelsea, but so do Kane and Son Heung-min, so ... yeah. Spurs have won the last two Premier League games against Chelsea by identical 3-1 scorelines.
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
Previously: Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Spurs in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal was arguably our best performance of the season so far.