The showdown at Stamford Bridge

March, 23, 2012

The most important game of the Premier League weekend does not involve either title-chasing Manchester club, but rather a pair of scuffling London sides, as Chelsea hosts Tottenham in a game rife with Champions League implications. Here are five notes for the showdown at Stamford Bridge.

• Fourth-place Tottenham leads fifth-place Chelsea by five points with nine games remaining. According to Soccer Power Index simulations, Tottenham has an 82.1 percent chance to earn a Champions League spot by finishing in the top four, and Chelsea has a 22.9 percent shot. SPI also says that both Manchester teams are virtually guaranteed Champions League berths and Arsenal has a 92.6 percent chance.

• A Tottenham win this weekend would increase its Champions League odds to a near lock at 95.8 percent, crushing Chelsea's odds to 7.2 percent. On the other hand, a Chelsea win would nudge the Blues up to 36.6 percent and reduce Tottenham to 69.8 percent. Because Chelsea is expected to win this home game, a draw hurts the Blues more, dropping their odds to 16.8 percent.

• Stamford Bridge has not been kind to Spurs in recent years. Tottenham is winless in 21 straight league games there, last winning a 1990 Division One match on a late Gary Lineker goal. Only once in its past 17 league visits has Tottenham mustered more than a single goal.

• Neither team is in particularly good form. Chelsea has won two of its last eight games, earning nine of 24 possible points. Including Wednesday's come-from-ahead loss to Manchester City, Chelsea has dropped 15 points from winning positions this season, tied with Queens Park Rangers for most in the Premier League. A league-leading nine of those points have been lost in the final 10 minutes of matches.

• Tottenham is winless in four straight league games and has won two of its past nine, sliding to fourth place for the first time in over three months. Tottenham seeks to snap a two-match road losing streak and avoid its first three-game away skid in over four years. Spurs haven't won any of their road games against teams in the top half of the table this season, going 0-4-3 in seven matches.

Paul Carr

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