Three Key Battles for Tottenham and Chelsea
Diego Costa vs Toby Alderweireld
Like two armoured siege elephants meeting head on. If one of those elephants had a moustache and was prone to jabbing the occasional tusk into an opponent’s eye.
Diego Costa’s form has nosedived since the turn of the year. At one time oceans ahead in the scoring charts, the former Atlético brawler has managed just four goals in all competitions in 2017; against the might of Hull, Swansea, West Ham and Wolves.
Something about the prospect of earning £600k-a-week in another continent looks to have clouded the Spaniard’s focus. Look, how is anyone supposed to concentrate on the job at hand when you’re daydreaming about the number of small Polynesian islands you could’ve bought this month?
A hell and bullets duel with Toby Alderweireld, under the steel arches at Wembley, is probably just what Costa needs to kickstart him out of this funk.
Let’s get physical…
Dele Alli vs N’Golo Kante
There’re few sure things in football. As close as it gets, however, is the potential of N’Golo Kante and Dele Alli picking up the two main PFA Awards at Grosvenor House on Sunday. Before that likelihood becomes a reality, the season’s stand-out players will meet in an FA Cup semi-final and it should be an intriguing battle.
One of Dele Alli’s most lauded strengths is his movement. The reserves of grey matter are well-stocked when it comes to floating into dangerous areas. Alli makes excellent use of the space he creates for himself and is usually lethal once in scoring range. For a good example, watch the two goals he headed in against Chelsea last month.
It’ll be Kante’s task, forever the willing runner, to track the advances of Alli in those pockets of space in front of Chelsea’s back three and beyond. Who will prevail?
Tottenham Hotspur vs Wembley Stadium
It’s quite poetic that Tottenham’s biggest concern for tomorrow’s encounter is an inanimate object, albeit a very large one. But it’s worth noting the North London club’s abysmal record at the House That Australian Contractors Built. Since their Carling Cup victory over Chelsea in 2008, Spurs’ numbers reads: P8 W1 D1 L6
That includes FA Cup semi-final defeats to Portsmouth and Chelsea and League Cup final losses to Man United and Chelsea (again). Our recent experiment to use Wembley as a temporary home ground for Champions League games also turned out to be a disaster.
I understand the logic that the larger pitch isn’t always conducive for Tottenham’s style of play and as a stadium, it’s at odds with the close-knit atmosphere at White Hart Lane. But for any team desperate for success and trophies, it’s probably a good idea to get their head around perfomring where, you know, all the finals are.
Just a thought.
On a final, desperately sad note. The untimely passing of Ugo Ehiogu. Here’s Head of Coaching and Player Development John McDermott:
“Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the Club. Ugo’s immense presence will be irreplaceable. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Gemma and his family.”
**This article first appeared on Yahoo! Sport**