Chelsea vs Tottenham is always a huge game and Sunday’s showdown at Stamford Bridge (live, 11:30 a.m. ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) has the potential to set the tone for the season for these London giants.
Can Tottenham seriously fight for the title? Will Chelsea be able to do that too?
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We won’t really find out in the coming months, but this clash between two bitter London rivals is sure to be an intriguing, pulsating clash. Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel have a lot of respect for each other and while their formations are similar, their style of play is not.
Below is how we think both Chelsea and Tottenham will line up this weekend, with an 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 —-
—– Mount —– Sterling —– Havertz —–
The back three are actually choosing themselves now, as Thomas Tuchel doesn’t have many other options. He could start Reece James as a right sided centre-back and push Azpilicueta to the wing as James is incredibly quick and that speed of recovery could be essential to thwart some of the Spurs counter-attacks. Marc Cucurella looks set to start as left-back as the new signing will make his first start for the Blues.
In midfield, it is likely that Kante and Jorginho will start as Mateo Kovacic is out with an injury, which is a blow given his consistency over the past 18 months. Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling appear to have locked the three offensive spots. Havertz and Sterling can both play center or wide, so don’t be surprised if they alternate throughout the match, while players like Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech have to be brought in in the second half.
Tottenham line-up projection (3-4-3)
—– Lloris —–
—- Romero —- Animal —- Davies —-
—- Doherty —- Bentancur —- Hojbjerg —- Perisic —-
—- Kulusevski —- Kane —- Son —-
The back three pick themselves again and so does the midfield with Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg developing a great partnership. Yves Bissouma should be available to make his debut after missing the opening weekend against Southampton. Where Spurs team news gets interesting is with the fullback.
Emerson Royal started on the right and Ryan Sessegnon on the left in the opening weekend win and both had a lot of fun going forward. But for what is expected to be a tight, tense tactical battle, will Conte with experience and defensive nous go for this clash? If he does, Matt Doherty, who has recovered well from his injury at the end of last season, could replace Royal and new signing Ivan Perisic could fill in for Sessegnon. Perisic’s experience and leadership could be crucial in a match like this, but given that each team can make five subs, it’s also highly likely that Conte will keep the same team and swap Doherty and Perisic early in the second half. As for the top, the front three will remain the same, but Richarlison will definitely make his debut in the second half.