The big match of the weekend sees Chelsea host Tottenham. Frank Lampard will be facing off against his former manager, Jose Mourinho. It will be another meeting of the master and the apprentice, but this one comes with added intrigue. Due to the poor form of Manchester City and injuries suffered by Liverpool, these two teams are emerging as genuine title contenders. If either club manage to pick up three points on Sunday, it will be huge and increase the title discussion.
Chelsea have moved into the top four after an inconsistent start. It was always going to take a period of time for the Blues to find rhythm following big summer spending by Roman Abramovich. There were fears that it would sideline the young talent coming through at Stamford Bridge, but Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have retained their regular status. The biggest impact has been provided by the signings of Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy, with the team keeping seven clean sheets in their last ten matches across all competitions. This level of defensive quality was unheard of during Lampard’s first season in charge. It highlights the progression being made under the former player.
Tottenham currently sit top of the table after nine matches. Few expected Jose Mourinho to be a success in North London following his arrival to replace Mauricio Pochettino. It has taken time and there have been bumps in the road, but they are now one of the best teams in the division. There has certainly been progression, as shown by last weekend’s victory over Manchester City. Although Pep Guardiola’s men dominated the ball, Spurs controlled the match and created the better chances. It was a return of the Jose Mourinho of old. Those that wrote the Portuguese coach off did so too soon. He still has something to offer at the very top of the game.
Chelsea are now unbeaten during 90 minutes in 13 matches across all competitions. Although, they did lose to Sunday’s opposition on penalties during that run.
Tottenham have only managed to win seven of their 56 Premier League meetings with Chelsea.
The former RB Leipzig man is starting to find his stride in the Premier League. Last weekend, he was unlucky to leave St James’ Park with only an assist to his name, as he regularly managed to get into dangerous positions against Newcastle. There is a lot more to come from the German international and he will be looking to make an impact against one of Chelsea’s rivals. He managed to get on the scoresheet in the Carabao Cup earlier this season. Meanwhile, he did score against Tottenham during last season’s Champions League for his former club. This is an opposition that he will know well and he will take confidence from his previous performances against them. So far this season, he has contributed four goals and two assists in the Premier League. It is a decent return, but the forward will have ambitions of improving on that record considerably over the coming weeks and months. Spurs have conceded fewer goals than any other Premier League team. It won’t be easy for Werner on Sunday, but he has the quality to make an impact in these types of matches.
Despite Harry Kane having one of the best seasons of his career, it is Son Heung-min that could be the bigger threat in matches like this one. That was evident last weekend when the South Korean scored the opening goal against Manchester City. He thrives when there is space left in the opposition half. Chelsea may have improved as a defensive team, but they still like to commit men forward and can be caught out on the break. Jose Mourinho will know this and look to target his former team down the flanks. A frequent occurrence this season has been Harry Kane dropping deep to pick up the ball, before launching over the top through balls to Son. It has been a common pattern of play and one that could have success against Chelsea, due to their attacking full-backs. The 28-year-old is set to have his best ever season in North London as he has already contributed nine goals and two assists. Now, he has to be regarded as one of the best in the division and he will be looking to show that again on Sunday.
Christian Pulisic is back in contention for the home team, while Kai Havertz is available again following his Covid-related absence. It will be interesting to see whether Lampard is brave and sticks to his current formation, or reverts to a back-three, with Cesar Azpilicueta returning to the starting eleven. He has favoured that in matches against other top six teams, but considering their good form, it would be a risk to change.
Toby Alderweireld will be missing for the visitors following a groin injury suffered against Manchester City. However, Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso and Hugo Lloris are expected to be passed fit.
This is going to be an excellent game for the neutral and the winner would emerge as a genuine title contender. Chelsea have been in good form, but Tottenham have been a class above in big matches so far this season. They were dominant against Manchester United earlier this campaign, while their performance against Manchester City last weekend was excellent. Mourinho should have the knowhow to come out on top against his former player.
Chelsea 1-2 Tottenham