Graham Potter needs ‘special win’ as Chelsea dominance of Tottenham piles on derby pressure


Before every game, Chelsea’s official website publishes the statistics on their record against the next opponent, and the latest edition makes gleeful reading for supporters.

Tottenham are Chelsea’s hosts on Sunday, and there are any number of ludicrously one-sided stats about the history of the fixture, particularly in the modern era.

To name just a few: Chelsea have won more Premier League games against Spurs (33) than against any other team, while Spurs have conceded more Premier League goals against the Blues (110) than anyone else.

More immediately, Chelsea are unbeaten against their rivals in nine matches, boast a 100 per cent record from three visits to Spurs’s new stadium and are aiming to win four consecutive away League games in north London for the first time ever.

The sheer weight of this history would surely be of comfort to a manager but, for the beleaguered Graham Potter, Chelsea’s record in the fixture only raises the stakes uncomfortably. For the Blues, there are bad defeats — and there is losing against Spurs.

Pressure on: Defeat against Spurs could be a knockout blow for Chelsea boss Graham Potter (REUTERS)
Pressure on: Defeat against Spurs could be a knockout blow for Chelsea boss Graham Potter (REUTERS)

In the Premier League era, Chelsea have lost this fixture just seven times from 61 meetings, with two of those coming when current Spurs head coach Antonio Conte, who will miss the game as he continues to recover from surgery, was in charge of the Blues.

For the fans remaining patient with Potter (and at this stage, they are surely in a minority), a defeat by Spurs could be the final straw, offering further and final confirmation that the head coach is a poor fit for the club.

The club’s owners, however, remain determined to back Potter, but will be equally frustrated by another reverse, albeit for less emotional reasons. Win, and Chelsea will reduce the gap to fourth-placed Spurs to eight points, raising slim hope of a late push for a Champions League place — surely so important given the club’s vast spending.

A 14-point gap at this stage of the season, however, would surely be insurmountable, even if Chelsea’s array of expensively-assembled superstars were to suddenly click. A defeat, therefore, might have the feel of a knockout blow.

There is no better side than Spurs for an out-of-form Chelsea to face, although for Potter there may be no worse team against which to lose

Gus Poyet one of the few players to successfully cross the divide between Chelsea and Spurs, says the sheer volume of external noise will be impacting co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, and believes Potter needs “a special win” to ease the pressure on his shoulders.

“When you’re in a club [that] has spent that much money, you need to win,” said Poyet. “I really support Graham Potter, he’s a terrific coach. I would love him to have as much time as possible, but we don’t know, that’s [down to] the owner.

“I believe in this even more nowadays with social media: everything that goes around, media way, puts tremendous pressure on the owners and the sporting directors and the people at the clubs.

“When there is really, really too much negativity around the club, the owners need to react, and it’s a problem.

“We’re getting to the point where it’s becoming very important to have a special win. A special win is a London derby or against [Borussia] Dortmund in a couple of weeks. They need that. That will calm everything down.”

Speaking to The Tottenham Way podcast, Poyet said: “The fans are going crazy. Everybody is talking about bad, bad, Chelsea bad, bad, the coach bad.

“And that, we all know, makes owners react because they don’t want that. They start taking it themselves and it’s not nice. When people start going against the owner, they go, ‘okay, let’s put it on the coach’.”

Potter knows the most relevant statistic right now is that his side have just two wins in 14 matches across all competitions since the first week of November — a run of form unprecedented for the Blues this century.

On paper, there really is no better side than Spurs for an out-of-form Chelsea to face, although for the manager there may be no worse team against which to lose.