It’s probably not an overstatement to call this the most important game of the season.
With just one point separating the two teams inside the top-five — which now looks to be enough for Champions League qualification thanks to Manchester City’s ban — it’s the most six-pointer-ish of six-pointers. Add in the rest of the context, of the managers, the shared histories, the injuries, the inconsistencies and poor form ... and you have the makings of a most dramatic 90 minutes, the (eventual) repercussions of which could be wide-ranging.
Are you ready to have your weekend made or ruined by Saturday lunchtime?
Date / Time: Saturday, February 22, 2020, 12.30 GMT; 7.30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — anyone’s bound to be an improvement after Anthony Taylor’s performance on Monday; third Chelsea game for Oliver this season after the 2-1 home loss to Liverpool and the 4-2 away win over Burnley back in October.
Forecast: Mild and breezy
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 1, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India): DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Ruben Loftus-Cheek is back in contention for the first time since May, and could be part of the matchday squad. He’s not quite match-fit enough to start, but he could be on the bench.
One might wonder why we’d put a half-fit player on the bench (even as just a feel-good exercise), but given the team’s injury issues, it’s perhaps not too surprising. N’Golo Kante’s set to miss several weeks, “hopefully” just three. Christian Pulisic doesn’t even have that clear of a timetable for his return, and Lampard did not give an update in his pre-match press conference on Callum Hudson-Odoi. Tammy Abraham is only 70 per cent fit and Andreas Christensen has to play with a mask due to a broken nose.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s walking wounded have just 2 points from our last 4 league games, and just 15 from the last 14 — near-relegation form. Have we hit rock bottom yet?
Tottenham Hotspur team news: Spurs’ injury list may be slightly shorter than Chelsea’s, but it’s no less impactful. Missing in action are Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, and Moussa Sissoko, while Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela continue battling fitness concerns.
Unlike Chelsea, Spurs have actually been collecting points despite not particularly impressing on the pitch. In fact, Wednesday’s narrow home loss to RB Leipzig, in which they were thoroughly outplayed, was only their third in all competitions since Christmas.
Mourinho will undoubtedly set his team up to be as annoying as humanly possible.
View from the enemy: Cartilage Free Captain
Previously: Lampard made it two-from-two against his former boss as Chelsea beat Spurs 2-0 at New Three Point Lane.