Chelsea vs Tottenham is always a huge game and this Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge (watch live, 11:30am ET on USA Network and online via NBCsports.com) has the potential to set the tone for a season for these London giants.
Can Tottenham seriously challenge for the title? Will Chelsea be able to do that too?
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We won’t find out, really, for a few months yet, but this clash between two bitter London rivals is sure to be an intriguing, pulse-pounding clash. Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel have a lot of respect for each other and although their formations may look similar, their style of play is not.
Below is how we think Chelsea and Tottenham will line up this weekend, with analysis of where and how the key battles can be won and lost.
Chelsea lineup projection (4-2-3-1)
—– Mendy —–
— Azpilicueta — Silva — Koulibaly —
—- James —- Jorginho —- Kante —- Cucurella —-
—– Mountain —– Sterling —– Havertz —–
The back three are basically picking themselves now because Thomas Tuchel doesn’t have many other options. He could start Reece James at right centre-back and push Azpilicueta to wing-back as James is incredibly quick and that recovery speed could be vital to thwarting some of Spurs’ counter-attacks. Marc Cucurella looks set to start at left-back as the new signing will make his first start for the Blues.
Kante and Jorginho are likely to start in midfield, as Mateo Kovacic is out with an injury, which is a blow to his consistency over the last 18 months. Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling seem to have the three attacking spots locked down. Havertz and Sterling can both play centrally or out wide, so don’t be surprised if they swap during the game, while the likes of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech should be brought on during the second half.
Tottenham lineup projection (3-4-3)
—– Loris —–
—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-
—- Doherty —- Bentancur —- Hojbjerg —- Perisic —-
—- Kulusevski —- Kane —- Son —-
The back three pick themselves again and so does the midfield two with Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg developing an excellent partnership. Yves Bissouma should be available to make his debut after missing out against Southampton on the opening weekend. Where the Spurs team news gets interesting is at wing-back.
Emerson Royal started on the right and Ryan Sessegnon on the left in the opening weekend win and both had plenty of joy going forward. But for what is expected to be a tight, tense tactical battle, will Conte go with experience and defensive nous for this clash? If he does, Matt Doherty, who has recovered well from his injury at the end of last season, could come on for Royal and new signing Ivan Perisic may come on for Sessegnon. Perisic’s experience and leadership could be crucial in such a game, but with any team capable of making five subs, it is also very plausible that Conte keeps the same team and swaps in Doherty and Perisic early in the second half. As for above, the front three will remain the same but Richarlison will certainly make his debut in the second half.