Chelsea take on Tottenham in the Premier League as they look to pick up three points for just the second time in 2023 after they suffered defeat against Southampton last time out
Graham Potter once again looks to get his Chelsea career back on track when the Blues head across London to take on Antonio Conte’s Spurs side. The west London side are 11 points behind the Lilywhites who currently lie in fourth position in the Premier League, and have a lot to prove after defeat to Southampton.
Chelsea do not make a habit of losing to Spurs and have not done so since 2018. Potter has few supporters left in his corner and allowing the club’s London rivals to collect three points would only increase the calls for the 47-year-old to be relieved of his duties.
A strong performance with 90 minutes of intensity would at least provide a positive start for the Blues to take hold off and three points would go even further. The Blues will certainly have to produce a more accomplished Premier League performance than they have for a number of weekes.
Fortunately, Potter can once again call upon some of his first choice players after a number were absent from the squad against Southampton. football.london takes a look at the changes Potter should make to take on Tottenham
Thiago Silva and Reece James return
There will be few easier decisions than starting Thiago Silva and Reece James, and not including them in the squad last weekend must have proved difficult to do. Despite missing the game against Southampton, Silva remains the Chelsea player to have completed the most minutes this term, ahead of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz.
The Brazilian’s absence was keenly felt at the weekend as Benoit Badiashile produced an early error while Kalidou Koulibaly was perhaps a little fortunate to remain on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes. Both have looked strong in preceding games when partnered with Silva.
With Cesar Azpilicueta out injured, James’ return is even more simple than it would have been. The 23-year-old did feature on the right of a back three against Spurs earlier in the season, while Thomas Tuchel previously acknowledged the position could prove fruitful for James, particularly in retaining his fitness. Having been rested, and Potter’s apparent preference for a back four, it seems he will slot back in to command the right flank, however.
Raheem Sterling start
Raheem Sterling was one of few positives to emerge from defeat against the Saints, though his two missed added to the Blues tally of shots without goal as they racked up 38 in their last two matches and have beaten a goalkeeper just once in their last five games.
Nevertheless, Sterling remains Chelsea’s most productive player this season having recorded six goals and three assists. Few have come under Potter. Potter must realise Tuchel’s plan for Sterling to play a crucial role as part of his squad rotation, the former Manchester City star has proven his ability over a number of seasons.
Given his minutes, it is perhaps unsurprising, but Havertz remains joint top-scorer for Chelsea along with Sterling. The German forward has not provided the natural finishing ability of an out-and-out forward but saw a promising combination with his teammate following his introduction at Stamford Bridge. If he can provide the intensity and battling qualities he possesses against Spurs, he can provoke problems against their backline.
David Datro Fofana’s 45-minute outing had some merit, but he quickly found himself doing his best work in deep positions, Havertz and Sterling could potentially provide an impactful partnership with the support of Joao Felix.
Ben Chilwell question
Having recently returned from injury, Ben Chilwell has now made back to back to starts following to substitute appearances for Potter. He has yet to complete 90 minutes, and having picked up a small knock against Borussia Dortmund has come through games pretty well.
The former Leicester ace would provide the most threat going forwards against Spurs while balancing defensive duties but his ability to impact he game moving forward would likely be tested up against Dejan Kulusevski and the in-form Emerson Royal. Potter will be left with a difficult decision to weigh up both whether Chilwell is the correct option and whether he is fit enough to start another match.
Potter has already noted that Marc Cucurella allows Chelsea to build play in a different way and perhaps his absence from last week’s squad was taken with the clash against Spurs in mind. Having been given the weekend off, could Cucurella come straight back into the team? Possibly, and it would provide more flexibility if Chelsea decide they need to adjust to a back three at any point.