Antonio Conte returns to Stamford Bridge as Tottenham travel to face Chelsea on Sunday. It is the third meeting of the two clubs in a matter of weeks, after the Blues triumphed in the Carabao Cup semi-final. During those two meetings, there was a clear class difference between the two teams and it showed the work Conte has ahead of him. Despite the cup triumph, Thomas Tuchel’s team have struggled in the Premier League and they have fallen off the pace in the title race. The focus will now be on finishing the season strongly and avoiding the top four battle. A win on Sunday would secure their position ahead of the pack.
It has been a testing few weeks for Thomas Tuchel. He has been reminded of the work that still needs to be done, as they try to regain the Premier League title. The squad is very talented and there is strength in depth. The issue has been finding the right combination in attack, as Mason Mount and Jorginho are the two top scorers. There was hope that Romelu Lukaku would be the striker to fire Chelsea to a title challenge, but he has had issues on and off the pitch. Supporters remain behind Tuchel and the players. A victory this weekend would go a long way to calming the nerves in West London.
Many wrote of Tottenham’s season when they sacked Nuno Espirito Santo. Spurs looked a long way off the top four, but the appointment of Conte has raised standards and the team spirit is there for all to see. They came back from a goal down in stoppage time to beat Leicester City during the week. It is the type of victory that could energise the squad and lead to a run of excellent form. The players will believe that they can go to their London rivals and get three points.
Despite Chelsea’s recent poor form, they have only lost twice in their last 26 fixtures across all competitions. The Blues are a tough team to beat under Tuchel, even when they aren’t playing well.
Tottenham are yet to taste defeat in the Premier League under Antonio Conte. The Italian has been in charge for nine matches in the competition.
The only player to consolidate their position in the front three under Tuchel has been Mason Mount. He continues to improve every year and he is now one of the best players in the Premier League. In the final third, he carries a dual threat, as he can score and create. This season, he has contributed seven goals and five assists in the Premier League. The target will be to reach ten for both. This weekend offers an opportunity for Mount to play a starring role against one of Chelsea’s rivals. Tottenham are a very good team under Conte, but they are still vulnerable at the back. Mount has the quality to break down their defence. It will be interesting to see how Tuchel lines up this weekend. He moved to a 4-2-2-2 formation against Brighton, but he could decide to move back to 3-4-3 if he has one of his defenders back available. This would be better for Mount, as the attack did lack fluidity in the new formation.
Tottenham don’t have Son Heung-min available, which increases the emphasis on Harry Kane to perform. After a very slow start to the season, Kane has improved under Antonio Conte. He seems to be relishing the opportunity of working under one of the best managers in the world. It remains to be seen whether he still wants to leave the club in the summer, but supporters will be encouraged that there is a greater chance of the striker remaining in North London. During the week, he played his part in Spurs’s incredible turnaround, with a goal and an assist in the game. This season, he has contributed five goals and two assists. It is likely to be his worst season since breaking into the team, but he will hope that he can finish the campaign strongly. Chelsea aren’t one of his favourite opponents, as he has scored just four goals in 13 Premier League meetings with the Blues. That said, he will still be the biggest goal threat this weekend for Spurs.
Trevoh Chalobah, Andreas Christensen, Ben Chilwell and Reece James are all expected to miss out. Edouard Mendy won’t be available, as he is on international duty. Tuchel may decide to reinstate Malang Sarr to the starting eleven and move back to a three man defence.
Eric Dier will be available again for Tottenham, but Cristian Romero won’t be risked. The Argentine and Son Heung-min should be back for the next Premier League fixture. Steven Bergwijn is pushing for a start after his two-goal cameo against Leicester.
The recent meetings of the two clubs showed that there is still a gap between the two teams. Chelsea have been poor in recent weeks and they are still missing some key players, but they have strength in depth and they will be confident that they can beat Tottenham for a third time this year. Tottenham were better against Leicester, but without Son, they may struggle to break down the Chelsea defence.
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham