CHELSEA will look to shake off the disappointment of Sunday’s EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City when they welcome arch-rivals Tottenham to Stamford Bridge.
Raheem Sterling’s winning penalty denied Maurizio Sarri a trophy in his first final as Blues boss but the manager’s astonishing row with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga stole the headlines.
The Spaniard’s refusal to leave the pitch as Sarri tried to launch a late substitution has been put down to a case of miscommunication by both the manager and player – but all eyes will be on whether the club’s record signing keeps his place midweek.
Chelsea’s performance at Wembley will have bought Sarri more time following a hugely difficult period in west London. Defeat to Spurs could undo all that good work, however.
Tottenham’s hopes of maintaining a Premier League title challenge suffered an enormous blow after losing to Burnley on Saturday afternoon.
While Mauricio Pochettino has said the title coming to north London is now out of the question, he will be seeking an instant response from his side at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have a clean bill of health heading into today’s fixture but Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be hopeful of forcing their way into the starting XI after their bright cameos off the bench at Wembley.
Emerson Palmieri might be confident of keeping his place after his energetic performance – Marcos Alonso did not even make the squad with the Brazilian selected ahead of him in Sunday’s final.
Gonzalo Higuain started on the bench on Sunday with Eden Hazard deployed as a false nine.
Ben Davies joined Harry Kane in returning to the Tottenham squad on Saturday – although the Wales international was an unused sub at Turf Moor. Dele Alli meanwhile continues his recovery from a thigh problem.
Elsewhere, Mike Dean has been redirected from fourth official duties in Tottenham’s game at Chelsea today to avoid any potential for further conflict with Pochettino.
Dean will now be on the touchline at Manchester City v West Ham instead of Stamford Bridge, with Kevin Friend taking his place.
Sarri’s game plan almost worked perfectly on Sunday and will have bought him some more time at Stamford Bridge following those disastrous results against the two Manchester clubs.
But prior to the EFL Cup semi-final defeat in January, Pochettino had previously racked up three straight wins against the Blues.
These two have met 163 times over the years with Chelsea looking for win number 70. Tottenham have 54 wins to their name. – EveningStandard
Today’s EPL fixtures:
Southampton v Fulham
Arsenal v Bournemouth
Palace v United
Liverpool v Watford
Man City v West Ham
Chelsea v Tottenham