Chelsea face off against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday in a clash that Andre Villas-Boas's side must win to keep alive their rather slim title hopes...
The festive season is upon us, but for Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas, who face off this coming Thursday; they bring with them a new set of problems to worry about.
Barring that loss to Stoke, Spurs have been in fine form. Harry Redknapp, however has seen his side lose three of their vital attacking players in Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe to injuries which might restrict their involvement during the coming set of matches.
While Defoe has not been a definite starter, he has often provided the cutting edge to the team upfront, which does give the manager more headache.
Bale And Lennon Might Not Feature Against Chelsea...
However it is the loss of their two speed merchants, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, that shall hurt Tottenham the most. Redknapp’s tactics are based around speed, width and delivery into the box provided by these two wingers and their absence leaves a huge hole for the English manager to fill.
This was evident in the clash against Sunderland when Van Der Vaart and Luka Modric, who primarily started out wide, tried to drift inwards on every opportunity, and thus playing into Sunderland’s gameplan. While Steven Pienaar and Niko Kranjcar are the other options Redknapp has at his disposal, neither of them provide the same width or speed on the wings as Lennon and Bale.
While Redknapp just has his squad to worry about, his counterpart Andre Villas-Boas still possibly has his future on stake.
The Portuguese manager has had anything but a steady ride since taking over at Chelsea. Presiding over a rapidly aging squad, the former Porto manager tried to change their style of play by employing a high backline and failed dramatically.
Lots To Ponder Over For the Portuguese Manager....
With his team being too slow in defence and ponderous on the ball further upfield, Villas-Boas finally reverted back to the basics and seemed to be heading towards the right path after steering the team to morale boosting victories against Valencia in the Champions League and lately, Manchester City in the league.
However, it seemed to all fall apart last weekend when a Petr Cech howler allowed to snatch a point. And one couldn’t even argue that the point wasn’t well deserved.
With Jose Bosingwa slotting in at right back and the increasingly influential Ramires missing in midfield, Chelsea just seemed too slow and unsteady.
Chelsea seem to need a radical overhaul in the defensive department, with Cech, Bosingwa and anyone playing alongside John Terry in central defence looking rather shaky. Add to that, the uncertainty surrounding Didier Drogba’s future and the form of Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard.
Sturridge's Form Has Been One Of The Bright Spots In Chelsea's Season...
Although there have been some bright spots for Villas-Boas, such as the form of Daniel Sturridge, Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu, largely the Portuguese seems to have his hands full with solving the various problems cropping up at Chelsea.
With Manchester City having run away nine points ahead of Chelsea, if the latter are to retain even the slimmest of hopes about winning the title, they need all three points against Tottenham, who themselves sit two points ahead of the Blues and with a game in hand.
A loss here would put Pensioners side too far away from City as well as Manchester United and Spurs, while give the chasing pack of Liverpool and Arsenal further encouragement in their hunt for the fourth place.
Villas-Boas has showed in their last two big games against Valencia and Manchester City that his boys have what it takes to succeed in such vital encounters, even though they did fail against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
The Portuguese will be hoping for more of the same this Friday since another set-back after the debacle against Wigan will be like one step forward and two steps back after their recent revival.
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