Preview: Chelsea vs Tottenham

Tottenham need to beat London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night to keep alive their slim hopes of hauling in Leicester at the Premier League summit.

Spurs’ title challenge has been spear-headed by Harry Kane, who is leading the scoring charts this season with 24 goals. The England striker has found the back of the net five times in his last five outings to give the north Londoners a chance of catching the league leaders, who are eight points clear at the top of the table.

Christian Eriksen poses another threat to the Blues with the majority of his six goals coming from free-kicks, while he has provided 12 assists in the league this term.

Diego Costa has the ability to destroy any team on his day, but his temperament has cost the defending league champions this season, with the striker having been brought to task by the Football Association on more than one occasion following heated incidents with opposition players.

The Spain international has performed well under Guus Hiddink, with eight of his 11 league goals coming since the Dutchman replaced Jose Mourinho at the helm in December last year.

Willian is also deadly from set-pieces and Spurs will be wary of giving away free-kicks near their own penalty area, with the Brazilian midfielder looking to add to his five goals in the 2015/16 campaign.

Chelsea have lost just twice in the league with Hiddink in charge, embarking on a 14-match unbeaten run before suffering back-to-back defeats against Swansea and Manchester City recently.

However, they bounced back with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend to stay in the top 10.

Both Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard claimed this week that the Blues would do everything in their power to prevent their London rivals from winning the title, and Hiddink clarified those comments in his pre-match press conference.

“I haven’t read about Cesc’s comments,” he said. “Eden said this after the Bournemouth game. You can’t overvalue it as about [stopping] Tottenham. He expressed himself to be back in the team and going for all the wins, including Tottenham.

“They [the comments] don’t mean that after [the Tottenham game] it’s not important any more. That’s not my attitude or the club’s, nor Hazard’s.

“It means we desperately want to win the next game, which is Spurs, then Sunderland, Liverpool and Leicester. The players are well aware that they must play a good role in this season.

“We play for the win, which is normal. There’s no need for extra scrutiny because we want to fulfil our obligations now and in the upcoming games.

“I can’t give guarantee of the result, but I can guarantee that the effort will be there.”

Mauricio Pochettino’s men must win to keep the pressure on champions-elect Leicester, who only need two more points to lift the trophy following their 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

Spurs looked like they might catch the Foxes after putting both United and Stoke to the sword with convincing wins recently, but they slipped up a week ago after being held to a 1-1 draw at West Brom.

Pochettino, who this week agreed a contract extension at White Hart Lane until 2021, declared his players ready for the derby after their disappointment against Albion.

“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,” the Argentine told the press on Friday.

“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.”

Mauricio chats to Spurs TV ahead of Monday’s game v Chelsea. #COYS #THFC

A photo posted by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial) on

The hosts welcome back skipper John Terry and defensive partner Gary Cahill for their final London derby of the season.

Terry has been struggling with hamstring and Achilles injuries but should make the bench, while Cahill returns after missing the Cherries clash through illness.

However, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remains unavailable though suspension, with Loic Remy (groin) and Kurt Zouma (knee) also ruled out.

Spurs must do without Dele Alli, who sits out his team’s final three games after being banned by the FA for violent conduct.

The visitors must still assess Eric Dier, who suffered a concussion against the Baggies last time out, but Nabil Bentaleb will play no part as he struggles with a knee problem.

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