Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday for what promises to be a feisty evening of Premier League football at Stamford Bridge.
Despite a valiant effort in Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, the Blues walked away from Wembley Stadium empty handed with the spotlight on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for his refusal to be substituted in the final stages of extra time.
It's a must win for Chelsea and the increasingly-frustrated Maurizio Sarri, as a defeat would leave them in sixth place - potentially six points adrift of Arsenal in fourth place - but their opponents Spurs are also looking for a big response to Saturday's shock 2-1 defeat to Burnley.
The return of Harry Kane didn't quite go to plan for Mauricio Pochettino's side, as Kane's equaliser was rendered irrelevant by Ashley Barnes' winner in the 83rd minute which ended a run of four wins in the Premier League and resulted in a heated exchange between the Spurs boss and referee Mike Dean.
The Lilywhites will want a positive start to a huge week during which they play rivals Arsenal and travel to Germany for a Champions League last 16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund.
Check out 90min's preview of Wednesday's clash below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 27 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is It Played?||Stamford Bridge|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 1|
If the statements released by those involved in the bizarre incident at Wembley are to be believed, Kepa will not be disciplined for his actions and is expected to continue between the sticks against Spurs, while Sunday substitute Gonzalo Higuain will be hoping the false nine system is not favoured on Wednesday.
Maurizio Sarri says the Kepa substitution confusion was 'a big misunderstanding' because he thought the player had cramp. However he says Kepa was right that he could continue although the way he went about it was wrong. Sarri says he needs to talk to Kepa now. #CHEMCI— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 24, 2019
Marcos Alonso was left out of the cup final squad entirely as Sarri favoured Emerson Palmieri at left-back, but he may come back in after the Brazilian played the full 120 minutes.
Harry Kane and Ben Davies both returned to the Spurs squad on Saturday, but Dele Alli continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury and the game at Stamford Bridge is likely to come too soon for the England midfielder.
Eric Dier missed the Burnley defeat through illness, while defenders Kieran Trippier and Davinson Sanchez - who did not travel to Turf Moor with the busy upcoming schedule said to be in mind - could return on Wednesday.
|Chelsea||Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Sissoko, Winks, Eriksen; Son, Kane|
Head to Head Record
These bitter rivals have already met three times this season, with Spurs edging the mini-series two wins to one. Spurs' 3-1 defeat of Chelsea in November was the Blues' first defeat of the season and seemingly started the downward Sarri spiral.
However, Chelsea avenged the league defeat with a victory over two legs in the Carabao Cup semi-final, which means Tottenham have won just once at Stamford Bridge in 28 years - last season's 3-1 victory thanks to an Alli brace.
Historically, this London derby has been dominated by Chelsea with 69 wins to Spurs' 54.
Chelsea's recent form couldn't be more inconsistent as Sarri's men haven't won back-to-back matches in eight games (won four, lost four), and the Blues have been out of Premier League action since the 6-0 drubbing by Manchester City on February 10.
Spurs' weekend defeat to Burnley was their first in the league since January 13 to Manchester United, showing strong character to secure unconvincing victories over Fulham, Watford and Newcastle United. The Lilywhites are also in good stead to reach the Champions League quarter final after an impressive 3-0 home win over Dortmund in the first leg earlier this month.
Here's how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Chelsea 0-0 Man City* (24/2)||Burnley 2-1 Spurs (23/2)|
|Chelsea 3-0 Malmo (21/2)||Spurs 3-0 Dortmund (13/2)|
|Chelsea 0-2 Man Utd (18/2)||Spurs 3-1 Leicester (10/2)|
|Malmo 1-2 Chelsea (14/2)||Spurs 1-0 Newcastle (2/2)|
|Man City 6-0 Chelsea (10/2)||Spurs 2-1 Watford (30/1)|
Chelsea's display at Wembley was their strongest in a long while as Sarri adapted his Plan A for the first time since December's 2-0 win over Man City, which may be the way forward against Spurs as the Italian fights for his job.
However, due to the Blues' fragile mentality this season and the return of Harry Kane for Tottenham, any result is possible on Wednesday. One thing we can expect to see is a few yellow cards.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham