Combined XI: Chelsea and Tottenham

Combined XI: Chelsea and Tottenham

25/11/2016Sport

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Everything has conspired perfectly for a potentially explosive, fiery and significant London derby at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening as Tottenham play in-form rivals Chelsea.

The last meeting between the two sides could hardly have been more incident-filled, with Spurs players losing their cool and their shot at the Premier League title in a 2-2 draw back in May.

Ever since the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ fortunes have swung towards Chelsea, with Antonio Conte’s arrival continuing an upward curve.

Spurs may be the only unbeaten side in the top flight, but it is Chelsea, on a run of six straight wins and clean sheets, who are heavy favourites.

It is therefore intriguing to see who would feature in a combined side, based on current form, availability and fitness.


Defence: Lloris; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Vertonghen

While Spurs have struggled for consistency of late, one of their players has remained steadfastly excellent. Hugo Lloris has so often been Mauricio Pochettino’s saviour of late and he edges out Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois in goal. The Belgian has enjoyed an impressive run of shut-outs of late, but due to the well-drilled defence in front of him, he has been afforded the luxury of making relatively few saves.

Conte’s masterful switch to a back three creates a mainly Blue defence, where the ever-dependable Cesar Azpilicueta lines up alongside the much-improved David Luiz. Azpilicueta has adapted seamlessly to the tactical switch, while Luiz has responded wonderfully to the increased responsibility.

Completing the back three is Jan Vertonghen, who shorn of his defensive partner Toby Alderweireld has continued to be one of Spurs’ best performers.
 

Midfield: Walker, Kante, Matic, Alonso

Both teams have fullbacks which suit a 3-4-3 system, meaning the wingback positions are perhaps the most evenly-matched of the whole team.

Kyle Walker pips Victor Moses, but not by much. The England international has proven himself to be a world-class operator of late and although Moses has been a revelation this season, Walker has more experience and is arguably better rounded.

On the left side Chelsea summer signing Marcos Alonso gets the nod, with Tottenham’s key player Danny Rose suspended for this weekend after picking up a fifth yellow card in the league.

The midfield partnership comes down to form and familiarity, with Chelsea duo N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic chosen. Since reverting to 3-4-3 Kante and Matic have been nothing short of superb. Their work-rate, all-round contribution and positional sense makes them extremely difficult to get past, while both have also shown a perhaps underrated creative ability too.

Matic, for example, has five assists – the second-most of any Premier League player this season. Kante, too, has used his supreme fitness to good use, making plenty of late dashes into the penalty area. Victor Wanyama just doesn’t offer as much, while Mousa Dembele, although brilliant, is edged out primarily on the recent form of his team.
 

Attack: Kane; Costa, Hazard 

While Spurs have struggled for goals of late, seeing four successive stalemates before their 3-2 win over West Ham last weekend, Chelsea have been on fire in front of goal. The Blues have banged in 17 without reply for the opposition in their last six games, with the unchanged front three excelling.

Chief among their form players have been the world-class talents of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, who are so often the hub of creativity and the scorer of the goals. The duo have in fact been directly involved in 13 of the 17 goals scored in the Blues’ remarkable recent run, with five goals apiece. Their inclusion is unquestioned.

Playing behind the red-hot duo is Tottenham figurehead Harry Kane, who was sorely missed when he was out injured. Since returning he has scored three goals in two league appearances, with the win over West Ham almost entirely his doing.

Predicted line-ups

Chelsea

 

Tottenham