Interim Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has emphasised the importance of his side's forthcoming game with Champions League rivals Tottenham. A defeat could mean no Champions League football for Chelsea next season.
The two clubs are fourth and fifth in the league, as of now. They are separated by only five points. A draw would be enough for Harry Redknapp to retain that reasonable cushion over Di Matteo and the Blues. Chelsea, however, will be willing the win and three points needed to close the gap between them and the Champions League.
The stats seem to tilt the odds slightly in favour of the men from the Bridge, who have not lost at home to Spurs since 1990.
"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. 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," Reuters quoted Di Matteo as saying.
Meanwhile, injuries to John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic could prove to be problematic for Chelsea, who are looking at a string of tough games, including a Champions League quarter-final tie against Benfica and an FA Cup semi-final game against either Bolton or Tottenham, on 27 March and 15 April, respectively.
"We cannot look further ahead than the next game, we haven't got the time to do that because the position we're in doesn't allow us to do that. We're playing every three days so we need to utilise the whole squad, select a team that is fresh and can reach the intensity levels you need," Di Matteo added.
Meanwhile, the Spurs camp, who have problems of their own, appears to be low on confidence as a result of a recent winless streak. They are, additionally, also aware that the club has not beaten Chelsea at home since former player Gary Linekar's game-winning goal in 1990.
However, Redknapp feels the numbers will not affect his boys. Indeed, he questions if they are even aware of the fact.
"If I said to Benoit Assou-Ekotto we have not won at Chelsea, he wouldn't have a clue. He probably doesn't even know we are playing Chelsea until we tell him later on. And that is genuine. He wouldn't look at the fixtures. He would turn up and say 'What time is the coach tomorrow gaffer?' And that is it. He will be here, but he wouldn't be sure if we were going to Arsenal or Chelsea," The Sun quoted Redknapp as saying.