Five talking points ahead of the London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea
Chelsea can break records and take a significant step towards winning the Premier League title by beating Tottenham tonight.
Here are five talking points ahead of the 8pm kick-off at White Hart Lane:
CHELSEA TO END TOTTENHAM'S TITLE CHALLENGE AGAIN?
Spurs will need no reminding how Chelsea brought the curtain down on their title ambitions last season, when a bad-tempered 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge confirmed Leicester as champions. There are no mathematical certainties at stake this time of course but if Tottenham lose at White Hart Lane they will sit 13 points adrift of their opponents, who are hardly showing the kind of form to suggest a collapse is near. Such a gap would almost certainly be irretrievable.
MIGHT HISTORY WEIGH HEAVILY ON CHELSEA?
Chelsea know beating their London counterparts would not only send another resounding message to their title rivals but it would also secure them a spot in the history books. Victory for Antonio Conte's side would see them become the first English team to win 14 top-flight games in a row within the same season. They would also equal the 14 Arsenal managed over two campaigns, from February to August 2002. Conte insists his players are not concerned by records but they will be aware of what is on the line and must handle the added pressure.
CAN TOTTENHAM EMULATE STRONG FORM AGAINST THE BIG BOYS?
At the halfway stage in the season, Mauricio Pochettino's men are yet to lose a game against a team outside the top six. They have won 10 and drawn four of those 14 matches, with three of those draws coming during a sticky patch in October without the injured Harry Kane. It is their results against title rivals that have cost Tottenham so far. They have won only one of their five games against the top clubs and will surely have to improve that record if they are to challenge for the title. Beating Chelsea would be a good start.
CONTE TO PLUMP FOR PEDRO OR WILL IT BE WILLIAN?
Pedro's return from suspension creates a selection dilemna for Conte, who must decide whether to restore the Spaniard to the starting line-up or stick with Willian, who scored twice in the 4-2 win over Stoke on Saturday. Dropping Willian would be harsh on the Brazilian but Pedro has been a revelation in recent weeks, not least in the 2-1 win against Tottenham in November when his superb equaliser before half-time changed the course of the match. Willian offers more cover defensively, Pedro the greater threat going forward. It is a nice problem for Conte to have.
POCHETTINO TO SPRING ANOTHER SYSTEM SURPRISE?
After relying almost completely on a 4-2-3-1 formation last season, Pochettino has tweaked Tottenham's shape throughout the current campaign. This has been down to injuries, a search for form and occasionally just to keep his own players on their toes. It means Spurs are a difficult team to gauge but Pochettino may opt for 3-4-3, which benefits his attacking full-backs (arguably the deadliest in the league) and allows the team to build possession from defence - a key component of the Argentinian's style of play. Chelsea have enjoyed great success with a similar system. Get set for a battle of the back threes.