Wednesday’s meeting of Tottenham and Chelsea at White Hart Lane could have massive consequences for the Premier League title race.
If Antonio Conte’s side pick up their 14th straight league win, then the gap between themselves and Liverpool in second place becomes a daunting eight points. Should the home side prevail, however, then it would give renewed hope to the chasing pack.
After a slight blip in September, Chelsea have stormed ahead in this season’s title race, while Maurcio Pochettino’s team have come through something of a rough patch themselves and are still very much in the title picture, as well has regaining a strong foot in the top four.
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
The Belgian international had a poor season by his own standards last year, but has enjoyed a strong return to form in this campaign. How much of his revival is down to having a competent defence in front of him isn’t necessarily clear, but saves such as this one from Sunderland’s Patrick van Aanholt have made a big contribution to Chelsea’s winning run.
At 6.75, his Whoscored rating is slightly higher than that of Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris (6.69), though the Spurs keeper continues to show why he is regarded as one of the best in the world.
Right-Back; Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Centre-Back; César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Centre-Back: Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Left-Back: Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Tottenham and Chelsea have, by some distance, the two meanest defences in the league this season, so in any other combined eleven it could have been a whitewash for both.
As it is, the different formations employed by either manager make this somewhat awkward – but even in terms of Victor Moses (7.22) and Marcos Alonso (7.45) being considered as full-backs for this purpose, the Spurs pair of Walker (7.45) and Rose (7.5) still come out on top.
At centre-back, meanwhile, the gap between Vertonghen (7.32) and David Luiz (7.13) was narrow (and razor-thin on Squawka), while César Azpilicueta matched Vertonghen’s 7.32 on Whoscored but had more breathing space on the Sqauwka metric.
Gary Cahill and Toby Alderwiereld, meanwhile, clocked in at 7.03 and 6.94 respectively.
Right Wing: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Centre-Midfield: N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea)
Centre-Midfield: Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham)
Left Wing: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Again, some of these were very tight calls as the likes of Alsonso, Dele Alli, Nemanja Matic, Victor Wanyama, Son Heung Min and Pedro can count themselves unlucky to have missed the cut, but midfield has been a strong position for both teams.
On the right, Christian Eriksen (7.43) has been one of Tottenham’s best performers this season, racking up five goals and five assists.
In the centre, Kanté (7.36) and Matic (7.16) have built up a strong partnership – though the latter is rated below Mousa Dembélé (7.2), who himself continues to be the unsung hero of the Spurs midfield. (Delewas slightly higher-rated than both on Whoscored, but confortably behind on Squawka.)
On the left, meanwhile, Eden Hazard has recovered from last season’s nightmare by powering ahead to be the highest-rated player for either one of these sides at 8.03.
Striker: Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Two of the most in-form strikers in the league and with 24 Premier League goals between them this season, there was little separating Diego Costa (7.78) and Harry Kane (7.41) – and since both were well ahead of any midfield challengers, the logical course of action was to alter the formation to 4-4-2 to accommodate both in the eleven.
With 14 goals in 18 games, Costa has already surpassed his league total from last season – and is on course to break his record haul of 20. The Spanish international has admitted that he wanted to leave in the summer, but has found his form in England once again in a big way.
Kane, meanwhile, has kicked on after suffering from his customary slow start and having scored 10 goals in 14 league appearances so far this year, has a goal ratio of a goal every 1.4 games – slightly better in fact that last season’s 1.52 (25 goals in 38 games).
What the above team tells us is that apart from the dominant form of Hazard and Costa, there is very little to choose between these two sides. If Tottenham can find a way to keep one or both of those two quiet, they have a massive chance in ending Chelsea’s winning run.