The Premier League returns from the international break with a bang as Chelsea host their London rivals Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
This is a big game for both teams with Antonio Conte’s side looking to close the five-point gap on the top-four with only eight games of the season remaining.
During the reverse fixture in August, Chelsea recorded a 2-1 win against their neighbours at Wembley, who will be looking to win their first match at the Bridge since 1990.
There is no doubt that this London derby will be a feisty encounter and these are the five things to look out for at the weekend:
#1 Surprise return?
Spurs’ star man Harry Kane was expected to miss this encounter after he picked up an ankle injury against Bournemouth before the international break. However, judging by Mauricio Pochettino’s comments at his press conference on Thursday, the England man could make a surprise return to the Tottenham starting line-up. Pochettino didn’t exactly state that Kane will start, but he didn’t rule out the 24-goal man playing on Sunday.
#2 Courtois form
The Chelsea goalkeeper hasn’t played since his poor performance in the second leg against Barcelona earlier on in the month. Many felt that Courtois was at fault for at least two of the three goals conceded in the Champions League last-16 clash which resulted in Chelsea getting knocked out of the competition. Throughout the season, Courtois has been a safe pair of hands for Conte but another mistake will see the Belgian international come under huge scrutiny.
#3 Wanyama v Hazard
This will be one of many big battles at the weekend. Last season, at White Hart Lane when Spurs defeated Chelsea 2-0, Victor Wanyama got the better of Eden Hazard by producing a stunning defensive performance. During the reverse fixture this season, Hazard was out with an injury but his side still managed to secure all three points. This time around, Hazard will be the biggest threat to Spurs and Pochettino may well put Wanyama in the middle of the park to stop him from causing havoc. Either way, whenever Hazard drifts into midfield his battle with Wanyama will be an interesting one.
#4 Tottenham’s many threats
If Kane doesn’t start for Spurs at the weekend then there is no doubt that he will be a huge miss for the away side. However, that doesn’t rule out other Spurs players from hurting Chelsea and ending their top-four hopes. At this moment in time, Son Heung-Min is the man of the moment, the South Korean international has scored four goals in his last two matches, including 12 league goals. Added with that, Christian Eriksen has the capabilities of producing the magic from the middle of the park and he did score a wonder goal at the Bridge last season. Dele Alli, may not be producing the form that won him plaudits last term but the England international will still be getting into dangerous attacking positions to hurt Chelsea.
#5 Reaction if Chelsea lose
A defeat for Chelsea on Sunday will no doubt be the biggest hammer blow for the club so far this season – and Conte’s men have had a number of disappointments. It would more than likely end their ambitions to finish in the Champions League places which would only heap more pressure on their manager. Conte’s relationship with those upstairs has been a rocky one, to say the least, and another hammer blow may well signal the end of the Italian’s reign at the club.