Battle for top-4 slot in EPL
All eyes will be on Stamford Bridge and the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League this weekend as the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League heats up, while runaway leaders Liverpool can take another step towards the title.
With the league’s first winter break done and dusted, it is full steam ahead for the clubs fighting to secure the lucrative Champions League berths behind champions-elect Liverpool.
Any London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham is a feisty occasion, but there is an extra spice to the rivals’ latest meeting as they are in direct competition for a European place.
Fourth-placed Chelsea are just one point ahead of fifth placed Tottenham and a victory for Jose Mourinho’s men would take them above his former club.
Chelsea are reeling from a lacklustre 0-2 home defeat against Manchester United on Monday, but injury-hit Tottenham were beaten 0-1 by Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.
There was more bad news for Chelsea as coach Frank Lampard revealed that N’Golo Kante will be sidelined for three weeks after suffering a muscle injury against Manchester United.
Kante limped off after 12 minutes of Monday’s defeat and Blues boss Lampard does not expect to have the France midfielder back until March.
“N’Golo is not fit, he has a muscle injury, similar to the one he picked up against Arsenal; hopefully three weeks, something around that,” Lampard told reporters.
Hampered by their continued failure to turn possession in tangible rewards, Chelsea have won one of their last six league games, and none of their last four, leading to reports Blues boss Lampard might find his position under scrutiny if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.
Tottenham have won their last three league games to close the gap on Chelsea, but injuries to Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have left Mourinho without a senior striker.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will be sidelined for up to three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against Atletico Madrid, the Premier League leaders announced on Friday.
Henderson picked up the injury towards the end of the 1-0 defeat to the Spanish side in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday. The England midfielder has been assessed by Liverpool’s medical team and was seen leaving hospital after scans on Friday.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revealed the time-frame for Henderson’s injury at Friday’s media conference ahead of Monday’s Premier League clash with West Ham. “We heard of different hamstring injuries now around in the Premier League, Harry Kane, for example,” said Klopp. “It’s not that bad.”