Paul Merson says: Chelsea vs Spurs is massive… these games matter

Paul Merson: "It's a massive game. Believe me, these games make a difference over the course of a season."; watch Chelsea vs Tottenham, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

Hits and misses Frank Lampard Jose Mourinho

Paul Merson insists the outcome of this weekend's "massive" clash between Chelsea and Tottenham will have a huge bearing on the rest of the season for both sides.

Spurs head to Stamford Bridge at the top of the Premier League table after their 2-0 victory over Manchester City last weekend.

Jose Mourinho's side face another huge test of their title credentials when they face Chelsea, who are two points behind and can leapfrog their London rivals with a victory.

In his weekly column for skysports.com, the Magic Man talks Spurs' win against Man City, Jose Mourinho's impact at Spurs and Harry Kane's form.

Finally, he looks ahead to the blockbuster showdown at Stamford Bridge, which is live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League (kick off 4.30pm), where he thinks a win is more important for Frank Lampard's side...

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It's a massive game. Believe me, these games make a difference over the course of a season. If Chelsea lose, you then ask whether you can win a title losing to Liverpool and Spurs at home?
Paul Merson

'Spurs' City win good, but not amazing'

Looking back at Spurs vs Man City, I knew what the game was going to be like before we started.

Tottenham sit back, put 10 behind the ball, Man City attack and Spurs counter attack, and City cannot really defend. That is what happened.

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We are going mad, raving about a team that had 33 per cent of the ball. We are raving about them.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's win against Manchester City

Do not get me wrong, it was a good result, but they have a hard fixture list coming up. You would not look at that result and say they wiped the floor with Man City, or that it was amazing.

I think up to Christmas they have some big, big games. When other teams do what Spurs did to Man City, will Spurs be able to break them down? It took them a long, long time to break West Brom down.

You do not want to be playing good teams and always let them have 70 per cent of the ball, and expect it to work every time. That does not happen often.

Leicester happened once in a lifetime. You cannot work off that template.

'With Jose, you've got a chance of the title'

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is congratulated by his manager after the win
Image: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is congratulated by his manager after the win against City

Of course, Jose Mourinho plays a part.

You have always got a chance of winning the league with Jose, and it helps with no crowd there because you can play defensive football.

If you pay that way and do not score after five minutes, it is hard to keep defending and win the game.

Spurs are doing well, but there's a long way to go, and they are only a couple of injuries away. Look at Liverpool, you reel off their injuries, but look at the results they're getting. I still think Liverpool are the team to beat. If you finish above them and don't win the league, you're out of luck.

Leicester are probably the last team you want to play against with those injuries, and they wiped the floor with them.

'Nobody in the world like Kane'

Harry Kane celebrates his winner at The Hawthorns
Image: Harry Kane celebrates his winner at West Brom

I just struggle with words to describe him.

He is not far off the best player in the world. And this is the reason: you have got players like Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Sergio Aguero, Robbie Fowler, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Jamie Vardy. All top, top drawer centre-forwards.

Harry Kane is one of them, and then Harry Kane goes and plays where Kevin De Bruyne plays, where Eric Cantona played, where Dennis Bergkamp played, and he does it just as well.

Name me one player in the world who can be a No 9, score goals, hold the ball up, be strong, and then go and play No 10, and put 60-yard balls through the eye of a needle, or run at the ball with pace with defenders all around you before picking out a ball to assist.

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There's nobody in the world like him. There's no other player in the world who can be as good as a No 9, and as good as a No 10. I don't think there ever has. Lionel Messi cannot go up front, hold the ball up, bring people into play, and then score bundles of goals, and then go and play No 10 in the same game. He's a No 10.

Kane can do both.

I played with Dennis Bergkamp, one of the best in the world at what he did; he could not go up front and do what Kane does, hold the ball up and score bundles of goals. I played with Teddy Sheringham, he could not do both. Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, unbelievable centre-forwards - but you could not say to them: "For the next three weeks I want you to play No 10 and thread the ball through the eye of a needle."

I cannot believe what I see with Kane. Some of the passes, crosses, they are Kevin De Bruyne! Harry Kane has started to do what Kevin De Bruyne does!

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'Kane under Jose? I wasn't sure'

Jose Mourinho embraces Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son at full-time
Image: Jose Mourinho embraces Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son at full-time

I was the first to say: will he be happy? Because he will be scoring less goals.

If you are not winning anything, you want to make sure as a forward you're scoring 25 goals and fighting for golden boots.

It's a testament to Kane that he wants to improve his all-round game.

Anlaysis extra: How has Kane evolved?

Anlaysis extra: How has Kane evolved?

"There's a little bit of the Zidane about him," says Gary Neville. The praise keeps coming for Harry Kane - but what exactly is he doing differently?

'Fast start key for Jose'

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham could end up top of the Premier League this weekend if results go their way
Image: Jose Mourinho's Tottenham are top of the Premier League ahead of this weekend's games

Mauricio Pochettino was good, but he did not win anything.

Kane would have thought 'a serial winner is coming here'. He's won everything, and goes to a club who cannot win anything. One League Cup in two decades.

Jose has come to win, and plays the same way. Look at his Chelsea team, if they were 2-0 up against bottom of the league, more often than not it would stay 2-0. He wants three points.

He starts seasons like it is the last game of the season. All I hear with Man City is "there's a long way to go." No, they have played big games and given away big points.

Jose's title-winning teams have always started strong. He does not come from 15 points back to win titles. Why play basketball in the first quarter if it only matters in the fourth? Because the points in the first quarter make a difference! Three points mean the same now as they do in May.

Why play basketball in the first quarter if it only matters in the fourth? Because the points in the first quarter make a difference! Three points mean the same now as they do in May.
Paul Merson

Can Spurs win the title?

Substitute Giovani Lo Celso capped a fine rearguard victory for Spurs
Image: Substitute Giovani Lo Celso capped a fine rearguard victory for Spurs

I think all of them have bought into Jose's work, and they are a threat. But it's when other teams play counter attacking football on Spurs, will they be able to break them down?

I am not ruling Spurs out, but there is a question mark on the other side of the game. They struggled against West Brom, but they won, and I think it was their biggest result of the season so far.

It's those games where you have to rally yourselves when it's the other side's cup final. They are going to work 25 times harder against you.

A big, big football match...

Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho exchanged words on the touchline on Tuesday
Image: Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho exchanged words on the touchline Carabao Cup clash earlier this season

It leads me onto the crucial game at Stamford Bridge!

These are the games. If you sit back against this Chelsea team and give them 65 per cent of the ball? Are you going to be able to keep them out for that long? At the moment they have more firepower than Man City.

This team has goals, and makes runs. This is a big, big football match.

People will say there's a long way to go, but you need the points. These games give you an extra six or seven points because they keep your momentum rolling, they are big for confidence.

It's a massive game. Believe me, these games make a difference over the course of a season. If Chelsea lose, you then ask whether you can win a title losing to Liverpool and Spurs at home?

For Chelsea, you do not just want to become a flat-track bully. These are the big boy games.

Tottenham can draw this game - it's a great result for them. It's more important for Chelsea to win, and important for Spurs just not to lose it. It's never too early for these big games.

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Pitch to Post Preview: Are Chelsea and Spurs title contenders?; Plus Man Utd 'leader' Bruno Fernandes, Arsenal's creativity problems, and more!

This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Peter Smith is joined by Michael Bridge and Charlotte Marsh to look ahead to a blockbuster London derby between title hopefuls Chelsea and Tottenham, James Cooper explains how Bruno Fernandes has become Man Utd's leader, and we analyse Arsenal's creativity problems.

Plus, Tim Thornton has the latest from Leeds and Sheffield United - including the story of how the Blades almost signed Diego Maradona! Charlotte then makes her bold Pitch for what she thinks will happen in this weekend's Premier League action…

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox

Watch Chelsea vs Tottenham, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

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