Chelsea host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. The pair come into this match off the back of respective disappointments.
The Blues lost the League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties despite a much-improved performance, while Spurs suffered a disappointing Saturday lunchtime defeat to Burnley to put a dent in their title hopes.
Maurizio Sarri looks set to keep his job as Chelsea manager for the time being at least. There were rumours that a cup final defeat would see Sarri handed his P45, but he lives to fight another day.
A 6-0 defeat to Manchester City has made Chelsea outsiders to finish in the top four and a home loss to Manchester United knocked them out of the FA Cup. This match is perhaps the biggest of their season as they try to bounce back from penalty heartbreak.
The dispute between Sarri and Kepa Arrizabalaga on Sunday has raised questions about Sarri’s authority, too. The pair said all the right things after the match, and it will be interesting to see if the world’s most expensive goalkeeper gets given the start in this one.
Tottenham’s loss to Burnley had its own controversy as Mauricio Pochettino uncharacteristically lost his cool with Mike Dean. Dean was due to be fourth official for this match, but he has been removed from the fixture.
Harry Kane returned for Spurs against the Clarets and will likely start again here. Kane has a superb record in London derbies. He is 8/1 to score at least two goals on Wednesday night and 7/5 to score anytime in 888sport’s Premier League betting.
Eric Dier missed out at Turf Moor with illness and is a crucial doubt. Dier thrives in the ultra-competitive atmosphere of derbies and gives a presence in midfield that Spurs lack at times.
With Dier unlikely to start, the back three is probable again, meaning Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks playing as the midfield pairing.
Sarri will rotate Chelsea’s midfield after going to extra time on Sunday. Barkley will get a rest, having played on Thursday too.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek could get the start after a good cameo at Wembley. Spurs suffocated Chelsea’s midfield in the reverse fixture and will look to do the same again here.
Jorginho had a nightmare when Spurs beat Chelsea 3-1 in the league. His 11/5 price to pick up a booking is good value.
The two sides met in the League Cup semi-final earlier this year, which Chelsea scraped through on penalties.
Eden Hazard was at his brilliant best in the second leg (as he was in the final on Sunday). Hazard has a knack for shining on the biggest stage – his 2/1 price to score anytime is a very good bet if Chelsea can replicate their cup final display.
Sarri adapted on Sunday in a way we hadn’t really seen from him as Chelsea manager. The Blues sat deeper and looked to counter, making Hazard, Willian and Pedro a threat on the break.
Gonzalo Higuain will likely return to the line-up for this match, but we may see a similar, fast-transition approach from the hosts. Higuain has already had an up and down Chelsea career. His 7/5 price to score anytime is on the short side.
Chelsea were resolute in the first half against Manchester City, limiting them to low-percentage shots and happy to hold their shape out of possession. A similar approach could make for a cagey first half at the Bridge. Under 0.5 goals in the first half is 2/1.
Tottenham will not be reckless, but we can expect high pressing as Chelsea try to play out from the back. Heung-Min Son caused Chelsea endless problems earlier in the season and will be a constant threat in behind.
Chelsea’s tactics are an unknown after the alterations made for the cup final.
The need for a win, despite having a game in hand, could force Sarri’s hand somewhat. Tottenham are in limbo, unable to keep pace with the top two and comfortably in the top four.
Victory would be the ideal springboard ahead of a decisive few weeks for both teams. Defeat, though, would put Sarri under enormous pressure and be far from ideal for Pochettino ahead of this weekend’s north London derby.
Sarri has to name a strong team here despite playing 120 minutes on Sunday. The extra rest tips the balance in Spurs’ favour, even though Chelsea have only lost one of their last 24 matches against Spurs at Stamford Bridge.