Monday’s London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea is a fitting way to drop the curtain on another busy Premier League weekend.
Spurs fans must be looking forward to this encounter after Ange Postecoglou inspired them to their best top-flight start since 1960/61 en route to breaking numerous managerial records.
Last weekend’s 2-1 triumph at Crystal Palace not only maintained Tottenham’s unbeaten start to the new Premier League campaign (W8, D2) but also kept them two points clear of Arsenal at the summit.
After achieving the best-ever start by a Premier League manager in his first ten games in charge (W8, D2), Postecoglou has set his sights on becoming the third coach to go unbeaten in their opening 11 matches.
The only manager to reach that impressive feat in the 21st century was the former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, so the visitors owe it to the Italian to protect his legacy.
However, that could prove easier said than done after a gut-wrenching 2-0 home defeat to Brentford last weekend stunted their momentum, leaving them in the lower reaches at the start of this round.
When it looked like the Blues could be on the verge of turning the corner with back-to-back wins over Burnley and Fulham, disaster struck, with Arsenal hauling back a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 at Stamford Bridge.
Mauricio Pochettino may be glad that this fixture takes place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, given Chelsea’s disastrous track record at the Bridge in 2023.
James Maddison’s match-winning performance at Selhurst Park in the previous round provided Tottenham with an opportunity to win five consecutive Premier League games for the first time in five years.
But despite Chelsea’s lacklustre form, Spurs cannot take this encounter lightly, knowing their struggles in this fixture are long-standing, as witnessed by a single win in their last nine H2Hs (D2, L6).
Tottenham did win the most recent showdown, running out 2-0 victors at this stadium in February to put themselves in a position to beat the Blues in back-to-back league meetings for the first time since 2018.
Since they’re the only side in the division to have netted 2+ goals in nine of the opening ten matchdays, Postecoglou’s men ought to take the field in a buoyant mood.
Confidence must be a wishful thought from Pochettino’s point of view after Brentford inflicted a 15th Premier League loss on Chelsea in 2023, their worst defeat tally in a calendar year in two decades.
The Argentine boss bemoaned profligacy after that result, and rightfully so, with the Blues’ scoring woes restricting them to only 13 goals in the first ten rounds, accounting for their worst tally at this stage since 2007/08.
While a 2-0 home victory over second-tier Blackburn Rovers in midweek Carabao Cup action might have softened the blow, Chelsea must prove a point in the Premier League with a statement win.
They failed to beat opposition from the Premier League ‘Big Six’ last season, a trend that has ominously continued in 2023/24 with a brace of scoring draws against Arsenal and Liverpool.
While Ivan Perisic, Manor Solomon and Ryan Sessegnon are still out injured, Rodrigo Bentancur has finally returned to the fold and earned his first minutes of the season against Palace last time out.
Brennan Johnson, who impressed in that game, could be in for his first league start for Tottenham at the expense of the underperforming Richarlison.
As for Chelsea, Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Ben Chilwell, Trevor Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka, Wesley Fofana and Armando Broja will not make this cross-capital journey due to injuries.
Neither will Mykhailo Mudryk, though Enzo Fernandez’s return to fitness comes as a boost for Pochettino.
Tottenham Hotspur potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Guglielmo Vicario; Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie; Pape Matar Sarr, Yves Bissouma, James Maddison; Dejan Kulusevski, Brennan Johnson, Son Heung-min.
Chelsea potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Robert Sanchez; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Marc Cucurella; Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez; Cole Palmer, Nicolas Jackson, Raheem Sterling.
We Say: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Chelsea
Pochettino can expect a warm reception at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after everything he did for the club, but his Chelsea side should still return home empty-handed.
Regardless of their dreadful all-time record against the Blues (W56, D42, L77), Spurs are in better shape at the moment, and we back them to consolidate their surprising title charge with a win.
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