Tottenham Hotspur Vs Chelsea, 2011 Premier League: Preview, Nothing Between The Teams

Sandro of Spurs and John Obi Mikel of Chelsea compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur face Chelsea in a crucial game in the race for the Champions League places, with both sides missing key players.

Tottenham Hotspur face Chelsea tonight with almost nothing between the two sides. Tottenham lie in 3rd, one point ahead of Chelsea, and 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, albeit with 2 games in hand. It's been an excellent start to the season for Tottenham, who, aside from their games against the Manchester clubs when Luka Modric was unsettled, have been consistent. Since the defeat to Manchester City, Spurs have played 13 games, taking 34 points out of 39, and scoring 30 goals while only conceding 10. If it weren't for the excellence of Manchester City and Manchester United, Spurs might be title contenders.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have rebounded from a disappointing drop in form, winning 3 out of their last 4 Premier League games, including the first defeat of Manchester City. Andre Villas Boas has had his team revert more to the "classic" Chelsea ways of Jose Mourinho in their games against Valencia, Newcastle (who were still good when Chelsea beat them) and Manchester City, and expect a similar kind of style of counter attacking football tonight. In the North London Derby, Spurs were more passive and counter attacking, but against Chelsea, they may have to come out and attack Chelsea.

Both sides have quite a few injuries; Spurs are missing Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe, while Gareth Bale, Ledley King and Emmanuel Adebayor are possible doubts. Chelsea are missing David Luiz through injury, meaning Branislav Ivanovic will be at centre back, but Ramires is back for them, which will be a boost in the midfield. If Bale is fit, he could profit from Jose Bosingwa's sometimes haphazard defending, meaning Ramires' ability to cover down the right hand side will be crucial. Rafael van der Vaart is likely to start on the right for Spurs, but will come in field, giving space to Ashley Cole to support on the left hand side.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

Game Date/Time: Thursday, Dec. 22, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. local

Venue: White Hart Lane, London, England

Television: ESPN2 (USA - English), ESPN Deportes (USA - Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (UK), TSN2 (Canada)

Online: ESPN3 (USA)

For more on the two teams, check out Tottenham Hotspur blog Cartilage Free Captain and Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.

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