Top four at stake as Blues play Spurs

Top four at stake as Blues play Spurs

LONDON - Reuters
Top four at stake as Blues play Spurs

Chelsea captain John Terry is likely to be available for selection at the weekend after missing his team’s midweek defeat against title-chasing Manchester City. REUTERS photo

Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo believes defeat for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur on March 24 could make Champions League qualification a tall order but is reassured by the club’s domination of the fixture for over 20 years.

Chelsea has not lost at home to Tottenham in the Premier League era, the last reverse coming in 1990, but victory has never been more important as the Blues try and close a five-point gap on their London rivals who occupy fourth place.

Defeat, Di Matteo said, would make it difficult for Chelsea to finish in the top four although there is room for optimism with skipper John Terry set to return after missing the midweek defeat against title-chasing Manchester City.

Not such good news is the likely absence of full back Branislav Ivanovic who is doubtful with a thigh injury.

“We’re used to these big games, tomorrow is another one, the team is fighting for fourth and for the Champions League next season and we understand that,” Di Matteo, who suffered his first defeat since taking over from sacked Andre Villas-Boas on Wednesday, told a news conference on Friday.

“It’s a game we play at home and we want to take advantage of our home form and our supporters as well, a win would give us a big lift, if we get a draw we’re still in it, but if we lose it will be very difficult.
“We will try, our home form is very good, we haven’t lost a game yet in 2012, we would like that to continue.”

Chelsea, Tottenham and a resurgent Arsenal are battling for third and fourth places in the Premier League, with Chelsea having the slightly tougher run in.