Chelsea's 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday means that a victory against Spurs will all but ensure them a top-four finish. But they won't have it all their own way; Spurs will know that a win will take them above Arsenal and give them a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season. This could be one of the most exciting games of the season with so much at stake. Chelsea are favourites at 1.92 to win, whilst Spurs are outsiders at 3.85.
Chelsea will welcome back Eden Hazard, who missed Sunday's game with injury. Victor Moses should drop to the bench. Ramires and Frank Lampard played well in the centre of the park but we might see David Luiz used in midfield to counteract the influence of Gareth Bale. John Terry will probably return given that he was on the bench against United and Basel.
Spurs have serious injury problems going into this game. Aaron Lennon is a serious doubt which means Clint Dempsey will continue to play wide, whilst Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele will probably miss out too. This might prompt a change in formation to a 4-3-3, similar to the system they used in the second half against Manchester City.
Dembele’s likely absence is a huge, huge blow for Spurs. The Belgian is critical for the side's transition from defence to attack, and his likely replacement, Jake Livermore, is nowhere near as dynamic. Tom Huddlestone is a good passer, but will also struggle to provide the same thrust.
Lack of width
Chelsea don’t play with orthodox wingers, which means that we might see a relative lack of width in this game, at least from midfield and attacking players. The full-backs for both sides will therefore be expected to get up and down the pitch to create space and pull players out of position. Gareth Bale might play from the right once more, but he’ll spend a lot of time cutting inside and looking to get close to Jermain Defoe, meaning that Kyle Walker will have to provide the width on the overlap. He did this against Southampton, dragging players away when Bale came inside to score the winner.
Chelsea will try to get Cesar Azpilicueta forward as often as they can. He is very much their main wide attacking outlet, with Ashley Cole charged with marshalling Bale.
Can Chelsea contain Bale?
Gareth Bale has been in absolutely majestic form in the Premier League this season, scoring 20 goals, many of which have been winners for his side. Bale will likely play from the right, moving into areas where Chelsea's defensive midfielders are stationed. This is going to be the main battleground on Wednesday, because containing Bale would guarantee a more comfortable 90 minutes for the Blues.
This diagram show's Bale's action areas against Southampton. Clearly he is able to get into central attacking areas whilst also peeling off wide at times, meaning that both David Luiz and Ashley Cole will have to keep an eye on him. Luiz is quick, mobile and good at one-on-one defensive situations, so has as good a chance as anyone at stifling the Welshman.
Chelsea are favourites for the tie and will be in confident mood after the victory at Old Trafford. Spurs have Bale fit and firing but the absences of Lennon and Dembele will make their task far more difficult. Whoever wins, we should be in for an absorbing match.
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