Blog by: Shayne
On Saturday, Chelsea take on London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a derby that has a lot more at stake than just three points. Both teams are fresh from a summer spending spree that saw them recruit a number of new players in order to bolster their squad. A win against a rival club for either of these sides would be a moral boost for games to come.
This match, however, will be decided by a number of factors. Let’s take a look at 5 key battles within the match that will make a significant difference towards the result:
1) Erik Lamela vs. Ashley Cole
The Argentine winger is known for his pace combined with his ability to get around players. The task of keeping him quiet will be assigned to the veteran left-back Ashley Cole, whose form has only gone from bad to worse of late. He was caused plenty of trouble by the pacy Mohamed Salah during the Champions League match vs. Basel and Lamela will be looking to give the Englishman a torrid time down that right hand side.
Cole can still defend against tricky wingers but Lamela has plenty of pace on him and Cole, who seems to have a lost a couple of yards of pace due to age, will find it hard to keep up with him. Cole will have to defend very well to keep Lamela at bay.
2) Roberto Soldado vs. John Terry
The Spanish striker is known for his ability as a goal-poacher. However, the disadvantage of being a poacher is that they usually tend to solely feed of passes from others and can be easily out-marked at times. It will be up to John Terry to mark Soldado and ensure he can’t get into too many attacking positions. The Chelsea captain successfully out-marked Robin van Persie when the Blues took on United and one can expect him to give Soldado a hard time from the very first minute of the game.
3) Oscar dos Santos vs. Mousa Dembele
The Brazilian has been Chelsea’s most-improved player this season and has found the back of the net thrice. Given Dembele’s excellent defensive capabilities, it will be up to him to ensure that Oscar doesn’t cause too much trouble to Spurs’ back-line. This particular battle will be a very interesting one because both players like to attack and defend in equal measure. Oscar has the ability to out-mark a central midfielder (he did it to Andrea Pirlo when Chelsea played Juventus at Stamford Bridge last year). This particular battle should be fun to watch.
4) Eden Hazard vs. Kyle Walker
Eden Hazard hasn’t had a good start to the season so far, but he is a quality player with the ability to single-handedly influence games. He will be up against Kyle Walker on Saturday. The English right-back is good going forward but can be very suspect defensively. He will have to be far better than what he usually is if he is to keep Hazard quiet. As far as the Belgian is concerned, he could use this match to get some much-needed form on his side.
5) Jose Mourinho vs. Andre Villas-Boas
AVB worked as Mourinho’s head scout during his first spell at Chelsea and also later at Inter. The two know each other very well which means there will be a healthy rivalry between the two. The fact that there is no love lost between the two was evident when Mourinho chose to hijack Spurs’ move for Willian.
The Special One has won the first round; can AVB win the battle? Only time will tell.