The events at Wembley last Sunday are a clear starting point here.
This preview would have been reflecting on what would have been a positive evening’s work for Maurizio Sarri and his ailing Chelsea side.
Whatever encouragement might have been gained from holding Manchester City scoreless for 120 minutes in the League Cup final was lost through the remarkable scenes during extra-time.
The world’s most expensive goalkeeper decided to become the world’s most rebellious netminder by refusing to be substituted just before the penalty shootout.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Sarri, and Chelsea have since done their best to cover their tracks but you suspect there is terminal damage done between player and coach at the very least.
Back to the form.
Chelsea are in trouble. In their last ten, they’ve lost five. Admittedly, four of those five have been against the top-six, unfortunately for them Spurs are yet another top-six team that could likely expose Chelsea’s problems.
Tottenham were having a fairly good run of things, particularly in the league.
One league defeat in their last ten became two when Burnley turned them over at Turf Moor on Saturday. Mauricio Pochettino was aploplectic, Spurs were unimpressive.
Recent losses in both the FA and League Cups may have been dispiriting, but in general will lessen their workload over the coming weeks.
One of the more curious statistics about Tottenham is that they have yet to draw a league game this season.
In terms of the game itself, it is one of the few derbies that typically survives the hype and delivers on what it promises.
For starters, the game promises goals. In the last five meetings between the two sides there’s a total goals average of 2.8.
This season Chelsea have averaged just under that in league games at Stamford Bridge with 2.7 per game, while there’s an average of 3.3 total goals per game in Spurs’ away games in the Premier League.
Pochettino’s side have the edge over their last five games, having won three and lost two. Tottenham won this fixture last year but lost at home.
There are one or two health warnings to issue before landing on my recommendation.
Chelsea don’t tend to lose at home in the league. Despite all their travails, they’ve lost once at Stamford Bridge, that one against Leicester City.
They have beaten Man City, Arsenal, and held both United and Liverpool to draws.
The other thing to pay respect to is the quality of player they have. Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain, and Willian are proven match-winners and can decide a game in a moment.
I will however side with Tottenham and their highly impressive away record in the league.
From 14 games they have won 11, and in 10 out of 14 there’s been over 2.5 goals.
— kepa Arrizabalaga (@kepa_46) February 24, 2019
Davide Zappacosta is Chelsea’s only confirmed injury concern of Sarri’s preferred first team players. Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater could be in any condition and it would not matter, seemingly. Zappacosta was unavailable over the last week due to illness but could return.
Dele Alli is almost certain to miss out. A hamstring injury is expected to keep him out until early March at least. Eric Dier missed out against Burnley due to a virus and may have to make do with a place on the bench for this London derby.
Tottenham to win at 23/10 and continue their strong form on the road
Attach over 2.5 goals to the bet for some extra value, Tottenham to win and over 2.5 goals at 18/5