Nothing is going right at White Hart Lane right now. As Kevin said yesterday, Tottenham Hotspur might as well have lost their fourth straight match on Wednesday and had Manchester City not mounted a comeback, this weekend's match against Chelsea would be for fourth place. Luckily for Spurs, City did make a comeback and no matter what happens at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham will be in fourth place.
Just because Spurs managed a point, Chelsea gave up their lead and fourth place is not up for grabs does not mean all is well for Spurs. A loss at Stamford Bridge and their hold on fourth place will be down to just two points, which is hardly comforting. The sky is falling!
Chelsea's interim manager, Roberto Di Matteo, clearly thinks the sky is falling too. His latest comments make it clear that he has no respect for Tottenham, basically guaranteeing the Champions League and dismissing Spurs all together.
"Are we confident of making the Champions League? Absolutely," Di Matteo said after the loss to City. "We still believe and we still have confidence we can make it. We'd like to finish at least fourth. We will try to do that. If we can manage anything better, then that is a bonus."
(Have you pinned this on the bulletin board yet, Harry? Good. Now we can stop spinning Di Matteo's words into ridiculousness.)
Wednesday's match saw a return to normalcy. Luka Modric was back in the center and Gareth Bale was on the left. Emmanuel Adebayor and Aaron Lennon were out through injury, but Louis Saha was alone up top, Rafael van der Vaart was underneath the striker and Niko Kranjcar was on the right. It looked like Spurs, at least in shape.
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned, even if the formation suggested the old, successful Spurs. Scott Parker was awful, Saha looked lost and nobody ever looked like they were capable of doing anything ordinary, let alone extraordinary, to break down a Stoke team that wanted to do nothing more than defend, which they did well.
Against Chelsea, Tottenham cannot have another performance like they did against Stoke. The formation need to be much of the same, with van der Vaart underneath a lone striker, Modric centrally and Bale left, but there needs to be much more sharpness. Parker cannot flail away for 90 minutes, Modric needs to change the field much quicker and Bale needs to figure out a way to get free.
The Bale point is going to be the key for Spurs. Branislav Ivanovic is out for Chelsea, meaning Jose Bosingwa is going to be at right back and he is hardly a defensive master. If Bale cannot turn Bosingwa inside out and cause havoc with regularity then Tottenham might as well just quit.
John Terry will be back for the Blues and while he is coming off of an injury, Spurs saw last time around the impact that he can have. He was absolutely dominant last time the two teams met and if Tottenham have to play centrally because they cannot get things going out wide, you better bet that Terry will dominate again.
This isn't a complicated match for Spurs. Yes, there is a lot on the line, and yes, before Wednesday Chelsea were playing well under Di Matteo, but Spurs at their best can beat this Chelsea team, even at Stamford Bridge. We have not seen Spurs at their best in a long time, though.