Prior to the start of the 2020/21 campaign, very few would have predicted Tottenham Hotspur to be tussling with the league’s big boys in the title race. But when the north London giants face Chelsea on Sunday, they will be well aware of the fact that a victory could help them reclaim their place at the top of the Premier League table.
It will also be the return of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge as the Portuguese mastermind hopes to continue his side’s majestic run of form. Indeed, the Lilywhites are heading into this game on the back of a five game-winning run in all competitions. They are also unbeaten in the league since the opening day defeat to Everton back in September.
However, Chelsea happen to be the second most in-form team in the Premier League at the moment, having secured three back to back wins since their goalless draw with Manchester United. In addition, they are currently in a six-game winning streak in all competitions – a run that includes a narrow 2-1 victory over Rennes in midweek.
Such momentum has helped the Blues make up some ground in the league table, with the west London giants trailing only behind Liverpool and Tottenham heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures. In fact, a win on Sunday should be enough for Frank Lampard’s men to at least overtake their London rivals, who are leading only by two points.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two English heavyweights before they lock horns at Stamford Bridge, in this crucial Premier League encounter this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
It was apparent from Chelsea’s transfer market activity in the summer that manager Lampard is looking to build a side who are going to pride on their world-class attacking unit. It has been evident in their performances this campaign, with the Blues having scored more goals than other teams in the league heading into Matchday 10.
The likes of Tammy Abraham, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech have been firing in all cylinders, of late. And this week, they will be further reinforced by the return of Christian Pulisic, although the American international is unlikely to get the nod ahead of Ziyech in the starting eleven just yet.
Kai Havertz may also have to settle for a place on the bench, providing the hosts with additional offensive firepower on the bench, alongside Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Olivier Giroud.
Lampard isn’t likely to make too many changes to his side either despite a midweek trip to Rennes. We do, however, expect N’Golo Kante to return to the base of Chelsea’s 4-3-3, where he is set to partner Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic, while Jorginho serves as an option should Lampard opt for a more conservative approach.
While the Chelsea attackers have received a lot of praise over the past few weeks, the defence has noticeably improved. The presence of Thiago Silva, in particular, has offered the much-needed experience, which could be critical this weekend as the Blues look to stop free-scoring Tottenham.
There could be one alteration in the Chelsea backline, however, with Reece James replacing Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back. It will be interesting to see how the youngster deals with the threat of Son Heung-Min this weekend.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 29, 2020
confirm Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Kovacic, Kante, Mount; Ziyech, Abraham, Werner
Unlike Chelsea, Jose Mourinho is expected to ring in the changes this weekend after fielding the “Europa League squad” against Ludogorets in midweek. There could be a few players who could retain their places in the starting lineup, however, including Davinson Sanchez.
The Colombian international is expected to deputise for the injured Toby Alderweireld. He should get the nod ahead of Joe Rodon and the returning Japhet Tanganga, partnering Eric Dier at the heart of Spurs’ four-man backline.
There will be two automatic changes in the full-back positions as well, with Matt Doherty and Ben Davies making way for Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon. These two were excellent in the win over Man City, though they will have to brace themselves for a busy evening defending the likes of Werner and Ziyech.
In midfield, Mourinho is guaranteed to recall both Moussa Sissoko and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. These two are set to operate in the double pivot, hoping to provide solidity in the second line of press for the visiting team. It won’t even be surprising to see them work in deeper areas of the pitch, providing additional defensive support to the centre-backs.
The same cannot be said for in-form Tanguy Ndombele, whose silky footwork and the ability to beat defenders could make him a vital asset to Tottenham’s transition. The Frenchman could be essential in his team’s overall chance creation as well, though that responsibility will mostly fall on the shoulders of two frontline attackers in Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.
confirm Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Bergwijn, Ndombele, Son; Kane
- Full-Time Result – Draw or Tottenham @ 1.72
- Harry Kane to score anytime @ 2.25
- Tottenham to beat Chelsea @ 3.6
- Chelsea have won their last three Premier League games against Tottenham, more than they had in their previous eight against them. They last won more consecutively against them in the competition between January 2000 and March 2002 (six games).
- Tottenham have won just one of their last 34 away games against Chelsea in all competitions, losing the last three in a row since a 3-1 victory in April 2018.
- Spurs have kept just one clean sheet in their last 17 away matches against Chelsea in all competitions. It was a goalless draw in March 2012.
- Chelsea (7, level with Southampton) are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League, with Spurs just one of three sides with a 100% away record in the competition so far this term.
- Since the start of 2018/19, Chelsea have won eight of their ten home London derbies in the Premier League, dropping points in consecutive games last season against West Ham and Arsenal.
Player to Watch
There is no question that Tottenham Hotspur have vastly improved in regards to their defensive prowess, especially in the middle third of the pitch this season. The presence of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, in particular, has been a major difference, having already established himself as a key member of the first-team.
The Dane has impressed the onlookers with his ability to read the game. He is also quite fearless in making tackles, which should be useful to Spurs when it comes to cutting off Chelsea’s passing lanes in the middle of the park. His partnership with Sissoko in the Tottenham midfield, therefore, is something worth keeping an eye on.
Perhaps the most impressive element in Hojbjerg’s game, however, is his stamina and the willingness to keep fighting for his team till the very end. So, it will also be interesting to see how the ex-Bayern Munich starlet goes up against Chelsea’s very own N’Golo Kante this weekend.
Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
This is a very difficult game to predict given the fact that both sides are heading into this game on a positive run of form. However, both defences have surprisingly remained sturdy in recent weeks, so it remains unlikely that there will too many goals in this fixture and given the balanced nature of the two teams, we are expecting a 1-1 draw.