Ram­pant Spurs face a re­cov­er­ing Chelsea

CityPress - - Sport -

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur will be wary of an ap­par­ently re­ju­ve­nated Chelsea when the Lon­don sides lock horns at White Hart Lane this af­ter­noon.

The in-form Spurs have not tasted de­feat in the Premier League since their open­ing-day loss at the hands of Manch­ester United, and head into the week­end’s clash off the back of a 1-0 vic­tory over Azer­bai­jan’s Qarabag in the Europa League on Thurs­day evening.

How­ever, Po­chet­tino has spo­ken at length about his side’s lack of prepa­ra­tion time due to their lengthy trav­els this week, while José Mour­inho’s Chelsea had two ex­tra days off to re­cover fol­low­ing their 4-0 tri­umph over Mac­cabi Tel Aviv in Is­rael on Tues­day night.

Tot­ten­ham are said to be one of the fittest teams in the Premier League, and their stamina will surely be put to the test by a Chelsea side still smart­ing from re­cent de­feats to Stoke City and Liver­pool.

How­ever, this is per­haps the best pos­si­ble time for Spurs to face Chelsea, who re­main within touch­ing dis­tance of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, and an­other de­feat to­day would see Mour­inho and his un­der­per­form­ing side face a re­newed bar­rage of crit­i­cism.

Mour­inho was in a com­bat­ive mood ahead of the week­end’s crunch clash, though, telling the as­sem­bled press: “The re­al­ity is that we need points.

“We are all fo­cused on do­ing our job the best we can. The only thing we can do is try to get max­i­mum points. Chelsea is a big club; big clubs have dif­fi­cult mo­ments and cope with them. They try to build to have good mo­ments again.”

On the team-news front, cen­tre back John Terry and mid­fielder Ramires will un­dergo late fit­ness tests af­ter miss­ing train­ing on Fri­day with mi­nor in­juries.

Tot­ten­ham, mean­while, are ex­pected to ring the changes for the clash with the Blues.

Dele Alli (sus­pen­sion), Érik Lamela (groin), Na­bil Ben­taleb, Nacer Chadli and Alex Pritchard (all an­kle) are all set to miss out, but Kyle Walker, Mousa Dem­bélé and Danny Rose re­turn to the start­ing line-up af­ter be­ing rested for Thurs­day’s game.

While all eyes will be on the day’s early Premier League fix­ture, there are other in­ter­est­ing games lined

up. West Ham, shorn of the ser­vices of in­jured play­maker Dim­itri Payet, will be look­ing to halt a three-match win­less run when they wel­come West Brom to Up­ton Park.

De­spite their re­cent run of poor form, the Ham­mers are still fly­ing high in the league stand­ings ahead of the week­end clash, but can ex­pect a stern test from the Bag­gies, who re­turned to the win­ning trail fol­low­ing back-to­back de­feats with a 2-1 tri­umph over ti­tle hope­fuls Arse­nal last time out.

At Car­row Road, Nor­wich City take on an Arse­nal side aim­ing to ban­ish all mem­o­ries of a bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to West Brom.

The Gun­ners cruised to a 3-0 win over Di­namo Za­greb in Tues­day night’s Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion and will be tar­get­ing more of the same against the strug­gling Ca­naries.

Jür­gen Klopp’s Liver­pool are still rid­ing the wave of op­ti­mism that fol­lowed the highly an­tic­i­pated ap­point­ment of the for­mer Dort­mund coach, and the Merseysiders are clear favourites to claim all three points at An­field af­ter record­ing a mem­o­rable 4-1 win against Manch­ester City last week­end.

Another win to­day could see the re­ju­ve­nated Reds rise as high as sixth place in the stand­ings, de­pend­ing on re­sults else­where.

Swansea have picked up just four points from their last five league fix­tures and find them­selves trail­ing Liver­pool by six points in the stand­ings. The form of the Swans has be­come a ma­jor cause for con­cern for the Welsh out­fit’s board of di­rec­tors, who are said to be eye­ing po­ten­tial re­place­ments for man­ager Garry Monk, with a view to bring­ing in a re­place­ment should re­sults fail to im­prove in De­cem­ber.

– TEAMtalk Me­dia

PHOTO: ARIEL SCHALIT / AP

TRY­ING TO RE­COVER

José Mour­inho hopes Chelsea will halt Spurs’ hot streak

PHOTO: PE­TER CZ­I­BORRA / LIVEPIC / REUTERS

WIN­NING Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino has turned Spurs around

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