On the face of it there should be little to ponder over for a game between the team in second and one in 12th but that’s not always how this works. On form Tottenham are the better team, on paper they look more assured and experienced and in the dugout there is less pressure.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have it all to prove. They are on the backfoot heading into the game despite it being a fixture they have had a lot of success in recently and are yet to beat a side above them in the table. In fact, the 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge over Spurs in 2022 was the last time they came out on top against a genuine top four rival.
It is for this reason, and the sense that things are better than they look for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, that former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson can see the Blues coming out of top regardless. “I’ll be there in North London for this one and I don’t see Chelsea getting beaten,” he wrote in his SportsKeeda column.
“Teams that had a go at the Blues this season haven’t had it easy, as was the case for Arsenal and Liverpool. Spurs will come out all guns blazing and start on the front foot and I think that will play to Chelsea’s strengths .
“Ange Postecoglou’s side comes into the game on a high and this is the first time in years Spurs fans will be expecting to beat Chelsea, which shows how far they’ve come under their new manager. Mauricio Pochettino, on the other hand, returns to a place he once called home and I think he’ll get a good reception, at least until the game starts.
“He’s done a lot for the club and should be remembered despite the fact that he’s managing one of his arch-rivals. It’s important to remember that he was sacked; he didn’t ask to leave the club in 2019. I’ll be really disappointed if he doesn’t get a good reception, let me put it this way. I’m not underestimating Tottenham, but I fancy Chelsea to win this one.”
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Merson’s prediction: Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea
The same certainly can’t be said for former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton who is backing the home side to get back-to-back wins in this fixture for the first time since 2010. It’s far from cut and dry though. “I’ve gone with Tottenham to win this one but, at the back of my mind, I have a nagging doubt about that,” he told BBC.
“On paper, it’s pretty easy to predict how the game will go – Spurs are top of the table and haven’t lost under Ange Postecoglou, while Chelsea are so erratic. Pretty much everything points to a home win, but with Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino going back to Spurs for the first time since they sacked him in 2019, I am not so sure.
“I am still going to go with my instinct and back Tottenham, because I think they are a better team than Chelsea are – but the Pochettino factor makes me think that, somehow, his side will find a way to win, and he will be the one who bursts Postecoglou’s bubble.
“On top of that, Chelsea are the team who I can’t ever seem to pick the right result for. I’ve actually managed it twice this season – when they beat Luton and drew with Bournemouth – but it feels like I had a better strike rate when I played up front for them.”
Sutton’s prediction: 2-0
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