Match Preview

Pre-Match Briefing: Tottenham vs Chelsea

The season enters its second month with an always much-anticipated capital city clash. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at the stories surrounding our visit to Spurs…

The always highly charged London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham will bring the weekend’s Premier League proceedings to a close on Sunday. Nineteen months have passed since a crowd was able to attend this venerable old fixture, on the roster since a 2-1 Pensioners win in 1909.

The occasion will evoke memories for Thomas Tuchel. Nuno Espirito Santo was the first Premier League coach he locked horns with in January (0-0 against Wolves at Stamford Bridge), and Spurs were hosts for his opening away fixture – a 1-0 win sealed by Jorginho’s penalty.

Tottenham 0-1 Chelsea (A) | Premier League

Highlights of our Premier League win at Tottenham last season.

It is a clash the Blues have dominated since 1992/93, racking up 31 wins compared to the Cockerels’ seven, and 103 goals as opposed to 55. Thirteen of those victories were achieved at Spurs’ various homes. At no club have we managed more in the Premier League.

This weekend Chelsea will aim to extend the current unbeaten run against the hosts in the top flight to six outings for the first time since a nine-game spree between 2010 and 2014, and record a third consecutive away success against the north Londoners.

Tottenham’s preparations have been disrupted by players quarantining and the timing of a UEFA Europa Conference League draw in Brittany on Thursday. Could the extra 48 hours rest and preparation affect this capital clash?

Chelsea are unbeaten in our past 42 Premier League games when leading at half-time, while Spurs have conceded three and scored none in the last hour of games.

Chelsea are aiming to win a sixth successive London derby on the road in the league for the first time in our history.


Chelsea team news

The Blues successfully completed the opening assignment in Europe in midweek with more of the confidence and knowhow evident so far this season. Each game has posed questions and up to now the answer has been provided.

The trip to Tottenham poses another stringent test, and a third successive match in which the Chelsea midfield two are likely to be up against three opponents.

Aston Villa went man for man and pressed high, recording six shots on target, one fewer than Liverpool managed against 10 men, and Zenit’s dogged lines of four and five found openings when they played it long.

It was a mark of Chelsea’s determination to start with a win that Toni Rudiger was level with fellow centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta upfield when the decisive cross was delivered. Spurs’ forwards, though, may view such boldness as potentially exploitable.

"It’s good to have Big Rom up there! He has a big presence” | Rudiger post match

Antonio Rudiger reacts to beating FC Zenit in the first Champions League match of the season.

The Blues found it hard to create chances in both games. While Villa showcased the team’s ruthlessness when not exactly in control, Wednesday’s performance lacked the necessary precision in decisive moments. Until, that is, Azpilicueta delivered for Romelu Lukaku’s exquisite header.

The Belgian’s first Champions League goal in royal blue was his fourth in four games in all competitions (from 16 attempts), the fastest scoring rate by new signing since Diego Costa in 2015/16.

Tuchel will ask his players to regain the ball deep in the Spurs half as they did against the deep-lying Russians. It was only a pre-season friendly, but that was how Hakim Ziyech scored twice in our 2-2 Mind Series draw with the Lilywhites in August. Spurs are also one of three sides against whom Marcos Alonso has scored three times.

Pre-season precision striking from Hakim Ziyech

Chelsea’s record of one conceded in all competitions is likely to tested on Sunday. The Blues have kept a clean sheet in 61 per cent of top-flight games since the Bavarian’s arrival, the best shutout ratio for any Premier League club under a single coach.

While Edou Mendy deserves praise as the regular number one, the interchangeable personnel ahead of him in defence and midfield have all performed with the same mission critical mentality.

N’Golo Kante, missing since the draw at Anfield, could be ready to return to the fray and Reece James has served his Premier League suspension. Ben Chilwell enjoyed his first minutes of the campaign as a substitute on Wednesday and might be retained to counter the pace of injury-doubt Lucas Moura.

Premier League wins since 1992/93

690 Manchester Utd
600 Chelsea
598 Arsenal
584 Liverpool
483 Tottenham
447 Manchester City

How will Santo set up?

Nuno Espirito Santo may have some of his key players back available to take on the champions of Europe after all. Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso and summer signing Cristian Romero are reportedly flying back from Croatia (where they have been quarantining), where a club coach put them through their paces, the day before the game. Eric Dier and Heung-min Son are hoping to shake off injuries to feature, but during Thursday’s night’s Conference League game against Rennes they lost Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura to new injuries.

The defensive reinforcements – suspended Japhet Tanganga aside – will be particularly welcomed by August’s Manager of the Month after an abrupt reverse at Crystal Palace.

Under Santo, Spurs play aggressively, working hard not to let opponents turn, and are more selective about how and when they attack than his predecessors.

Lucas Moura was one of the Spurs players in France on Thursday

Only Leicester have created fewer shots this season than the Lilywhites, and only four teams have conceded more attempts on goal, prompted by a relatively high number of defensive errors. The three league goals they have conceded this season have all come in the final quarter-hour, and they have the lowest figure for successfully regaining lost possession in the division.

Their average domination of the ball and longer-range pass completion rates have dipped substantially compared to last season, when they finished in seventh place.

At Selhurst the Sao Tome-born coach used a diamond formation including three hard-running defensive midfielders with a low-risk passing policy in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Harry Winks. Dele Alli, at the point behind Harry Kane, has been more workmanlike.

Kane’s isolation, upfront with in-form Moura, was widely identified: he managed no shots and no touches in the Palace box. After Tanganga’s dismissal reduced them to 10 men, creativity was in short supply.

Replacements off the bench were pragmatic – Ben Davies and Joe Rodon rather than a Bryan Gil or Tanguy Ndombele – and they ended up with fifth- and sixth- choice central defenders on the field.

Although rangey debutant Emerson Royal looked bright on debut at right-back, Palace winger Wilfried Zaha had the better of their duel overall. Another new man, centre-back Romero, could make his first start. The Argentinean faced then Inter forward Romelu Lukaku four times playing for Genoa and Atalanta in Italy, losing three times and drawing once. The Chelsea striker netted two braces in those games and Romero was booked three times.

Lukaku with Romero in close attention in their Inter and Atalanta days

This weekend, Tottenham may aim for the efficient performance that earned a 1-0 victory at home to Manchester City despite Kane’s absence. Their narrow midfield choked service to Guardiola’s frontmen, forcing City’s approach play wide.

With Son flanked by Bergwijn and Moura, Spurs sprayed long passes to exploit their pace. They ground out a worthy win despite little more than a third possession and fewer shots on target. All three of those forwards are injury doubts for Sunday, however.

London calling

Chelsea have fared well in cross-town league matches recently, winning five times in succession at local rivals’ grounds: Fulham, Spurs, Crystal Palace, West Ham and, most recently, Arsenal last month.

Sunday offers the early opportunity to complete a north London away ‘double’ for the third time in 10 years (2012/13 and 2019/20 being the other occasions).

Premier League London derby table 2021/22
PWDLGDPtsPts per game
3Crystal Palace4121051.25
4West Ham1010011

Around Group H

In our Champions League group midweek, two goals in as many minutes put the game beyond Malmo’s reach in Sweden, where Juventus ran out 3-0 winners. The hosts initially conceded against the run of play but by the end had goalie Ismael Diawara to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable.

Chelsea travel to Turin at the end of this month. In the meantime, Juve will entertain second-placed Milan on Sunday before facing Spezia and Sampdoria.

Malmo keeper Ismael Diawara could not keep out this Juve effort

Conference calls

Tottenham have a good chance to make history in the Europa Conference League. On Thursday a somewhat changed team were held 2-2 at Rennes in the opening exchanges of the new competition, which dovetails in many ways with the Europa League.

Instead of a Round of 32, eight Conference group winners automatically go through to a Round of 16. Before those games, additional play-offs will be staged between the eight ECL runners-up and the teams who finish third in the Europa League groups. The winners of the ECL gain entry to the Europa League next season.

Chelsea are England’s most recent winners of the Champions League, Europa League, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup, with playing in the Club World Cup to come.

Matchweek 5 Premier League fixtures

Newcastle v Leeds 8pm (Sky Sports)

Wolves v Brentford 12.30pm (BT Sport)
Burnley v Arsenal 3pm
Liverpool v Crystal Palace 3pm
Man City v Southampton 3pm
Norwich v Watford 3pm
Aston Villa v Everton 5.30pm (Sky Sports)

Brighton v Leicester 2pm
West Ham v Man Utd 2pm (Sky Sports)
Tottenham v Chelsea 4.30pm (Sky Sports)

Premier League 2021/2022
1Manchester United4310113810
5Manchester City4301111109
7Tottenham Hotspur43013309
8West Ham United422010558
9Leicester City420246-26
11Crystal Palace41215505
12Aston Villa411257-24
13Wolverhampton Wanderers410323-13
17Leeds United4022411-72
19Newcastle United4013512-71
20Norwich City4004111-100

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