Premier League Preview: Chelsea v Tottenham
By Football News
Chelsea's hosting of Tottenham on Wednesday could prove to be the crucial piece of the UEFA Champions League puzzle.
The catch-up fixture, moved from April 15 to accommodate the Chelsea's FA Cup commitments, is touted to shape the look of the top-four - and the all-important spots in next season's premier European club tournament.
Chelsea are third on 68 points - courtesy of Juan Mata's late winner against Manchester United on Sunday - while Spurs are fifth on 65 points.
Sandwiched between the two London rivals is another club from the English capital, Arsenal, on 67 points.
A Spurs win would mean there would be just one point separating all three teams with two matches remaining, while Chelsea would all but seal at least a qualifying spot in the UEFA Champions League if they can defeat their old manager Andre Villas-Boas and his Spurs outfit.
And on recent history between the two bitter rivals, it would seem Rafael Benitez will be able to lay claim to leading Chelsea to Europe - given Spurs have not beaten their hosts in six.
Chelsea won 4-2 at White Hart Lane earlier this season, while their clash at Stamford Bridge in 2011-12 ended goalless.
It seems Spurs' fate rests solely on the personal fortunes of electric forward Gareth Bale - the Welshman has scored in each of their past three league outings to take his Premier League tally to 20 this season - while the home side are likely to again rely on Mata to produce the goods.
Chelsea club captain John Terry did not feature in the win over United after also being left out of the 11 for their Europa League semi-final second leg against Basel, but could return as Benitez rotates his squad.
Chelsea are virtually at full fitness, with Oriol Romeu (knee) the only absentee from their squad.
Younes Kaboul (thigh) and William Gallas (calf) both missed Spurs' win over Southampton last time out, and remain in doubt to rejoin the matchday squad, while Sandro (knee) is a long-term absentee.