Tottenham have lived to fight another day in the Premier League title race. But now in order to take the battle to the penultimate weekend of the season, they will have to accomplish a feat they haven’t managed in 26 years: win at the Stamford Bridge home of their London rivals Chelsea.
A hugely frustrating draw with West Brom on Monday night left Spurs seven points adrift of league leaders Leicester City with just three games remaining. A victory for Leicester at Old Trafford on Sunday would have clinched the championship, but Manchester United managed to halt the title party with a 1-1 draw.
Leicester now need only two points to be sure of securing the trophy, and they will complete the most remarkable title win in Premier League history while watching from their couch unless Tottenham can come away with all three points from the outgoing champions.
Speaking before Leicester’s result, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino insisted his side were keeping belief alive, but will have to rebound from the disappointment of Craig Dawson’s equalizer for West Brom at White Hart Lane a week ago.
“West Brom was tough, we were all disappointed with the result and it’s always hard because our dream is to fight for the title and we missed a big opportunity to reduce the gap,” he said. “It was a big hit for us. The dream, the motivation is to fight for the title and we dropped two points, you always feel disappointed, but that all disappears because we need to be ready for Monday.
“We keep working hard, try to believe and the players have given their best every day.
They are good now and ready to compete again against Chelsea. It’s a big derby and we need to try and win the game and try to still fight for the title.”
Chelsea have little tangible to play for after a woeful title defense that sees them languishing in mid-table. Yet Tottenham nonetheless look set to come up against highly motivated opponents.
Speaking after he scored his first two goals of the Premier League season in a 4-1 win over Bournemouth last week, Eden Hazard made it clear that the squad wanted Leicester to win the title and would relish putting pay to Tottenham’s hopes. Also hosting Leicester on the final day of the season, Chelsea have the opportunity to have a pivotal impact on the title race.
Interim manager Guus HIddink, though, has played down Hazard’s comments and insists Chelsea will be going all out for the win in all of their remaining matches.
"That's not the attitude - not mine, not the club's, not from the squad and not from Hazard,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “The players don't need it to be demanded," "They are well aware to play a good role in this season whether it's Spurs now or another team in the near future.
"If you see the attitude in training then I cannot complain. We will play for the win [on Monday] which is normal, and any extra scrutiny? There's no need, for me, because we want to fulfill our obligations now and in the upcoming games.”
Hiddink could have captain John Terry back available after his recovery from injury. Tottenham, meanwhile, will be without Dele Alli after he received a three-match suspension for punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob. Fellow midfielder Eric Dier is a doubt after suffering a concussion last time out.
D: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Rahman
M: Mikel, Fabregas
Pedro, Willian, Hazard
D: Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose
M: Dier, Mason
Lamela, Dembele, Eriksen
Kickoff time: 3 p.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra