There is nothing quite like over-hyping an upcoming game.
Just last week, Liverpool vs Man City promised fireworks, excitement and goals. Instead, we got a colourless and quite drab affair. Up steps Tottenham vs Chelsea. The Battle of the Bridge last season was in the league’s top 5 contests, but this year it poses a fresh scintillating match up.
Chelsea have been quite simply brilliant. Words do them very little justice, but their run of 13 consecutive league victories does all the talking. Antonio Conte has transitioned into the Premier League with ease, brushing aside early struggles and shoring up Chelsea’s defence. The Italian has been quintessentially Italian, starting in defence knowing that if you don’t concede goals, you cannot lose. With the Blues’ abundance of stars in the attacking third, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why Conte’s men are such clear title favourites.
Spurs, on the other hand, have been really interesting to observe up until now. Their beginning of the season was grounded in strong foundations, even if it meant that they weren’t quite performing to the level of last year. Chelsea ended their fragile unbeaten Premier League run in November and when Pochettino’s men lost again to Manchester United, Spurs’ prospects of Champions League qualification looked slim. Now, after a wonderful Christmas period, Tottenham look not only a prospect for the Champions League, but some might mention them in the same breath as Liverpool in mounting a title challenge.
As crazy as it may sound, Chelsea’s form does not equate to them being favourites. Tottenham are unbeaten at White Hart Lane in its final year. They are seeking revenge, Harry Kane is firing and Dele Alli has scored two braces on the bounce. It is so impossible to call that any result will leave you feeling surprised. Records must tumble.
The individual competitions dotted around the pitch are what makes this game so thrilling. Eden Hazard will take on the two best full backs in the league, Diego Costa will have to get the better of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane and Dele Alli will have to create something against Chelsea’s durable defence, Mousa Dembele will wreak havoc amongst Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante. There are so many personal battles that can stimulate the saliva glands.
The tactical battle that will be well into its preparation must be so intricate. Pochettino must find ways for his side to rattle a confident Chelsea team. Conte must be able to nullify Tottenham’s threats while still maintaining a threat at the other end of the pitch. There are so many factors that must surely contribute to an intriguing competition.
All of these details will be played under lights at White Hart Lane. A fierce rivalry and an undoubtedly tense atmosphere will aid in providing fans with a mouth-watering competition. The game is already glittered with recent history and hatred which make it inconceivable to be dull. Your definitions of a great game may differ, but Tottenham vs Chelsea on the 4th January is one that could, and I say could with great apprehension, live long in Premier League history.
Stuart Fagg, Pundit Arena