LONDON — 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 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 that out, for real, for a fair few months yet, but this clash between two bitter London rivals will certainly be an intriguing, pulsating clash. Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel have a lot of respect for one another and although their formations may look similar, their style of play isn’t.
Below is how we think both Chelsea and Tottenham will line up this weekend, with analysis on 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 —-
—– Mount —– Sterling —– Havertz —–
The back three basically picks itself right now as Thomas Tuchel doesn’t have many other options. He could start Reece James as a right-sided center back and push Azpilicueta to wing-back as James is incredibly fast and that recovery speed could be essential to thwarting some of Spurs’ counter attacks. Marc Cucurella looks like to start at left wing-back as the new signing will make his first start for the Blues.
In midfield it’s likely that Kante and Jorginho will start, as Mateo Kovacic is out with an injury which is a blow given 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 interchange throughout 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)
—– Lloris —–
—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-
—- Doherty —- Bentancur —- Hojbjerg —- Perisic —-
—- Kulusevski —- Kane —- Son —-
The back three again picks itself and so does the midfield two with Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg developing a great partnership. Yves Bissouma should be available to make his debut after missing out against Southampton on the opening weekend. Where Spurs’ team news does get 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 then Matt Doherty, who has recovered well after his injury at the end of last season, could come in for Royal and new signing Ivan Perisic may come in for Sessegnon. Perisic’s experience and leadership could be crucial in a game like this but with every team able to make five subs, it’s also very plausible that Conte keeps the same team and swaps in Doherty and Perisic early in the second half. As for up top, the front three will stay the same but Richarlison will surely make his debut in the second half.