Chelsea has won 13-straight Premier League games. Tottenham has won four-straight and scored eight goals in their last two games.
[ MORE: Conte’s thoughts on Costa ]
Something has to give when the huge London rivals square off at White Hart Lane on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Chelsea aiming to set a new PL record for most consecutive wins in a single-season.
This will be a tough, physical battle and although Costa didn’t score against Spurs in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge in November, he grew into the game and set up the winning goal for Victor Moses with a surging run into the box. Vertonghen is going to have his hands full and it is highly-likely Pochettino will go back to playing a 3-5-2 system to try and nullify the threat of Costa and Co. The main thing here is that both players keep their cool. Whoever loses their head loses this battle. Costa’s new found focus may give him the edge here as his deceptive pace has seen him breeze by Vertonghen in the past.
This should be epic. Alli is arguably in better form than last season as the reigning PFA Young Player of the Year has scored four goals in his last two games and his link up play with Kane is ripping teams apart. With Kane, the king of tracking runs and shutting down space in front of his defense, marshaling Alli, Spurs’ young playmaker will have to be at his best to create chances. The big question mark around Alli is his temperament as he’s been known to lash out in the past. With Kante set to track his every move, Alli has to stay calm.
Luiz got the better of Kane at Stamford Bridge two months ago and the Brazilian defender has been getting better by the week at Chelsea. The same can be said for Harry Kane at Spurs after a slow start to the season which was disrupted by injury. Kane has now scored three goals in his last two games and has 10 goals in 14 PL appearances this season. He’s Spurs’ go-to man and his ability to drop off and play balls in to the onrushing Alli and Christian Eriksen have proved problematic for opposition defenses to deal with. Luiz has to resist the urge to rush out of his central defensive role to mark Kane.
Danny Rose vs. Victor Moses
If Pochettino goes for Danny Rose and Kyle Walker at wing back, this is where the game can be won and lost for Spurs. Rose and Walker have been two of the most consistent performers for Spurs over the past three seasons but Victor Moses is in the form of his life for Chelsea and has been a great find for Conte in his right-wing back role. If Spurs go with a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, Moses and Rose will go head-to-head in a wing-back battle. Both have pace and trickery and have popped up with vital goals for their teams. It could be a stalemate as both players know they have to hold back and handle their defensive responsibilities.
Kyle Walker vs. Eden Hazard
On the other flank there will be an intriguing battle as Hazard and Walker clash. Now, Hazard may play a bit further up the pitch but we all know he loves to drift wide and hug the left touchline. Walker loves to bomb forward and that fact suggests Hazard can have plenty of influence on the game and get on the ball. The bigger battle here could be Hazard against Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele as he drifts inside and Spurs’ two holding midfielder slot over to cover the space Walker has left behind, but I’m guessing Walker and Hazard will be seeing plenty of one another on Wednesday.