Maurizio Sarri’s search for his first senior item of silverware continues after the tragedy of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City ramped the pressure on his perilous position.
But who best for Chelsea to play in their next match than Tottenham Hotspur, still aspiring to snatch the Premier League title from the grasps of Manchester City and Liverpool above them.
Only a mere month ago, the London rivals locked horns in just the competition which Chelsea came so close to winning. Knocking Mauricio Pochettino’s team out on penalties, the same fate awaited the Blues in the finale.
As for the last league meeting, Tottenham ran out 3-1 winners to end Sarri’s unbeaten streak as Chelsea boss; how times have drastically changed.
Before the pair prepare to do battle once again, we have created our combined Chelsea and Tottenham team, based on WhoScored.com’s average match rating statistics from this season’s Premier League.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.07
Following a turbulent start to the campaign, Hugo Lloris has rediscovered his form which sets him in the highest tier of shot-stoppers in the country.
David De Gea of Manchester United is his one adversary from the league’s top six sides that has made more saves (De Gea 94, Lloris 73), with Spurs’ skipper sitting seventh in the division overall.
Centre-back: Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.13
Many have questioned his dip in form after the highs he delivered at the World Cup last summer. He and Serge Aurier are now in serious competition for the right-sided defensive spot, with the Ivorian currently favoured.
Kieran Trippier’s statistics for the season are solid; he is joint-fourth for the number of assists for defenders (three) and he has the most key passes for a right-back (31) in the top-flight.
Centre-back: David Luiz (Chelsea) 7.13
After missing his spot-kick in the cup final shootout, life is far from merry for the typically upbeat Brazilian.
David Luiz can hold onto the fact that no central defender has played more long key passes (seven) or through balls this term (nine).
Centre-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) 7.09
With Emerson starting in three of the past four fixtures, one of those being the recent final at Wembley Stadium, Marcos Alonso’s starting future at Stamford Bridge lays with doubt.
Another Chelsea player whose numbers are savouring their reputation is the Spaniard, with former Blue Patrick van Aanholt of Crystal Palace being the only left-back to have attempted more shots than Alonso (Aanholt 36, Alonso 35), whilst the Premier League winner is also second for passes (1,560) amongst his left-footed peers.
Right-midfield: Willian (Chelsea) 7.16
It is difficult to fathom a Chelsea team in recent memory without Willian in the squad, yet with the emergence of Callum Hudson-Odoi and the arrival of Christian Pulisic on the horizon, this may become a reality.
His contribution will be sorely missed, as no wide player has made more key passes (58), whilst Willian sits joint-third for assists amongst wingers (four).
Centre-midfield: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.07
Whereas Spurs’ attacking stars have been vacant in recent matches, Christian Eriksen has once again stepped up to play a pivotal role in a stellar run, ended by Burnley at the weekend.
Eden Hazard is the only player with more assists than the Danish midfielder (Hazard 10, Eriksen nine) and has made 36 short key passes, joint-second for a central midfielder in the league.
Centre-midfield: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.02
Deli Alli’s absence has not discouraged Tottenham’s terrific results as of late, his re-arrival even more reason to rejoice the current situation. He grabbed the first goal in the side’s previous league meeting, and he has a knack of scoring against Chelsea.
Despite being injured since the end of January, Alli has scored the joint-second most goals inside the six-yard box for an Englishman (four).
Left-midfield: Pedro (Chelsea) 7.03
Like Willian on the opposite flank, Pedro will be peering over his shoulder in anticipation for Chelsea’s next generation to come knocking on his door.
As the youth arrive, the former Barcelona man hasn’t let age deter his performances. For players over the age of 30, nobody has completed more dribbles (30), he also has the joint-second most shots (40) in the league.
Right-wing: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 7.76
With all the angst surrounding Sarri, Chelsea fans’ biggest fear will be life after Hazard. As the club’s trajectory tumbles, the Belgian is likely to try to turn his fortunes around elsewhere.
Still leading WhoScored’s Premier League average match rating charts (along with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling), nobody has achieved more successful dribbles (84), whilst James Maddison of Leicester City is the only player in the division with more key passes (Maddison 70, Hazard 68).
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.49
It took just over an hour for Harry Kane to find the back of the net against Burnley, after seven weeks on the sidelines. Strangely, his return accompanied his sides first league defeat in five games.
Not many Spurs fans will complain, with Kane the joint-second top goalscorer in the league (15), whilst no striker has had more shots outside of the box (26) in the league this term.
Left-wing: Heung-Min Son (Tottenham Hotspur) 7.34
If Kane coming back into the fold ended in a loss, Heung-Min Son has done nothing but win the smiles of Spurs fans’ faces.
The South Korean has been involved in 16 goals this term (11 goals, five assists) and has only been dispossessed on average once per league match.
By Nathaniel Kay