A win over West Ham made it three in four in the league for Tottenham Hotspur and actually vaulted the club into fourth place (though Newcastle does have a match in hand). Still, this feels like the best the club has looked in some time, and while there is plenty of work left to do — including in the Champions League — at least there is some real reason for optimism now.
Spurs can validate these good vibes in a big way this weekend by taking down a struggling Chelsea. It is no secret that this fixture has been a challenge for Tottenham, who has not won it since 2018/19, but going out and playing like the better team would be a big statement. Stumbling, though, against a Chelsea side who has just one (!!) league win this calendar year, would be a big disappointment.
The latest clash at the Bridge was one of the more memorable moments of the season, with Harry Kane equalizing in stoppage time after the Cristian Romero-Marc Cucurella incident. Much has happened since then for both clubs, but this feels like right time to truly step on the gas and seize the opportunity.
Tottenham Hotspur (4th, 42pts) vs. Chelsea (10th, 31pts)
Date: Sunday, February 26
Time: 8:30 am ET, 1:30 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: USA Network (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
Injuries and managers aside, this has not been the season Chelsea expected, sitting squarely midtable and well off the top four. Like Spurs, the Blues are down a goal in their Champions League tie as well, and should Dortmund come out ahead, it essentially becomes time to focus on next season.
This will obviously still be a difficult fixture though, as it always seems to be for Tottenham. Specifically, Chelsea has one of the best defensive records in the league and have allowed just three goals over the past six fixtures, though the attack has generated just two goals during this stretch, meaning opportunities may be hard to come by.
It took 45 minutes, but Spurs eventually stepped up against West Ham and put forth a decent attacking effort. Heung-Min Son’s substitute goal will only further complicate the debate regarding Richarlison, but it still feels worthwhile to give the Brazilian some more consistent minutes.
The biggest surprise last weekend was the play of Emerson Royal and Ben Davies, with the ostensibly defensive-minded wingbacks partnering for the opening goal. The former has been playing his best football since joining Tottenham, though it still seems like he is a couple poor outings away from being replaced by Pedro Porro.
On one hand, a match against a big six opponent would traditionally call for a more conservative lineup, but this current Chelsea squad is much more similar to a lower table defensive unit. Spurs will need to creativity and fluidity to earn some chances on goal, and whoever gets the nod must be up to the task in the final third.