At the start of the month, Tottenham recorded their first win at Chelsea since 1990 which seemingly ended their neighbours’ hopes of finishing in the top four.
The dark clouds were appearing over Stamford Bridge once again as Antonio Conte’s men were eight points behind fourth-placed Spurs in the Premier League table.
Fast forward to today and Conte’s men, aided with a couple of slip-ups from Spurs, have narrowed the gap on their rivals to five points.
With four matches of the season remaining, here are the five reasons why Chelsea can claim an unexpected Champions League spot ahead of a faltering Tottenham side:
#1 Players are showing fight
When Chelsea were 2-0 down away at relegation-threatened Southampton last Saturday, many would have felt that the club’s season was just petering out without any fight. However, Conte’s side showed that there is still plenty of desire left in them as they produced a remarkable comeback to win the game 3-2. Five days later, they recorded a tough 2-1 win at Burnley, which further proved that this Chelsea side is not going down without a whimper. The exact reaction required when chasing down a rival.
#2 Confidence from FA Cup win
Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup final with a comfortable 2-0 win against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday. After a bleak season, the win at Wembley has kept the club’s season alive and it will give them an extra boost going into their final run of Premier League fixtures. Wins are needed from Conte’s men but they will know that all the pressure will be on Spurs.
#3 Pressure on Spurs after FA Cup defeat
Whilst Chelsea were celebrating their FA Cup semi-final win, Tottenham were hurting from their 2-1 loss to Manchester United the day before. Pochettino has received many plaudits for the way he has managed the club in these last four years, but questions have remained about their qualities and mental strength to win that elusive trophy. Following their cup exit at the weekend, it remains to be seen whether Spurs will react in a positive or negative manner when they return to Premier League action next Monday against Watford.
#4 Tottenham have stumbled before
Two seasons ago, Chelsea recorded a 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham which helped Leicester City win a remarkable Premier League title. Spurs ended that season by losing 5-0 at relegated Newcastle with the club labeled with the ‘bottlers’ tag for the manner in which they lost the title. Considering how the tide has changed for Chelsea in recent weeks, and Spurs’ questionable mental strength, you wouldn’t back against Spurs stumbling once again.
#5 Strikers in-form
Six weeks ago, Alvaro Morata was struggling for form and January signing Olivier Giroud wasn’t the cup of tea Conte had ordered during the winter transfer window. Now, both players have added some light to their performances, with Giroud being the standout performer. The Frenchman was instrumental in that famous comeback against Southampton in the league and then both Giroud and Morata found the back of the net to see off the same opposition in the FA Cup at the weekend. Perfect timing for a late surge.