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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Chelsea can beat Tottenham in crucial Premier League clash

Spurs look set for more Stamford Bridge pain

Eden Hazard will be hoping for plenty to celebrate at Stamford Bridge
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Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 4pm Sunday

Tottenham's poor Stamford Bridge record is not reason alone to back Chelsea for a crucial Premier League win over their London rivals but the fifth-placed Blues can get themselves back in contention for a Champions League spot with a vital Easter Sunday success.

Tottenham have not tasted victory at the Bridge since Gary Lineker was on the scoresheet 28 years ago, a record spanning 30 matches in all competitions with 25 of those in the Premier League.

Even as Tottenham have narrowed the gap in recent years they have struggled at this venue, taking one point from their last four visits, and that 2-2 draw was soured by losing their heads as well as any lingering title hopes in the infamous 2016 battle of the Bridge.

The good news for Mauricio Pochettino is that Tottenham will still be in pole position for Champions League qualification should victory once again prove a bridge too far and Chelsea, knowing they need to win, could deliver a strong performance.

This is almost last-chance saloon for Chelsea in their attempt to resurrect their top-four ambitions as they attempt to overhaul fourth-placed Spurs, who are five points superior with eight games left.

Home advantage has been huge in big-six battles this season, excluding runaway leaders Manchester City who have been in a league of their own.

The other 17 top-six matches have resulted in only two away wins - Manchester United's triumph at Arsenal and Chelsea's success over Spurs at Wembley in August.

Marcos Alonso scored twice at Wembley as Chelsea overcame the absence of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard to stun Spurs late on.

Hazard is now back to full fitness, Willian is playing superbly and, for all the negativity surrounding Antonio Conte's future with the champions, it is worth remembering Chelsea have won nine of their last 11 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge.

Seven clean sheets in their last 11 at home is also a fair return and suggests Spurs may struggle to penetrate the Blues' back three with Harry Kane not at peak fitness.

Pochettino refused to rule out his star striker but Spurs rushed him back following the November international break and paid the price with a 2-0 loss at Arsenal where Kane was substituted.

Kane also sat out the 1-0 loss at Manchester United in October and that is the crux of Tottenham's problem. 

They have lost at United, Arsenal and City this season and their only positive Premier League result away to an elite club came in a hugely controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield when Kane's penalty levelled matters with virtually the last kick.

1pt 29-20 Betway

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Team news
There are doubts over Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen with the keeper less likely to be ready. Ross Barkley, David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are out.  

Harry Kane has not been ruled out of the trip but is a major doubt as he recovers from an ankle injury. Harry Winks is sidelined.

Key stat
Harry Kane has scored 41 per cent of Tottenham's Premier League goals this season.

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Chelsea, knowing they need to win, could deliver a strong performance
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