Tottenham host Chelsea at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday night. Jose Mourinho is without his captain and striker Harry Kane as he takes on new Blues coach Thomas Tuchel. Coming into the midweek round of fixtures, both sides are six points off the fourth Champions League spot, making this a crucial match in the top four race.
Spurs are veering wildly this season between looking an effective team able to get results and one that can be beaten with barely a whimper. In their last nine league matches, Spurs have been beaten home and away by Liverpool, lost at home to Leicester and were beaten 1-0 last time out by Brighton.
They’ve also had three matches in that period where they led 1-0, rested on their laurels and were punished with equalisers in the final 20 minutes to drop two points. Their two wins in the last eight were 3-0 at home to Leeds and 3-1 away at Sheffield United.
Spurs Team News
Harry Kane remains out injured for Tottenham with little depth to replace him. Son led the line against Brighton but was ineffective and Carlos Vinicius doesn’t quite look ready for Premier League football. Gareth Bale looked rusty and immobile on the right flank too so the attack is a problem. Erik Lamela could come in, either on the flank or as a false nine. Dele Alli is doubtful.
In the backline, Serge Aurier was dropped for discipline reasons for the last match and Sergio Reguilon is out injured. Mourinho may need to recall Matt Doherty at right wingback whilst Eric Dier will hope to be selected in the back three too. Tanguy Ndombele went off injured in the last match and is doubtful, with Giovani Lo Celso is still absent.
Spurs looked like a shambles against Brighton without Kane and struggled to really create anything. Mourinho’s tactics to sit deep and counter works fine with Kane and Son in tandem but more bodies may need to be committed forward to pick up the slack when either of that duo isn’t available.
Tottenham will want to win this match but avoiding defeat will be paramount. Expect the Portuguese coach to play an abrasive side with Lamela in attack to commit tactical fouls and a back five and two deeper midfielders in place.
After a poor run under Frank Lampard which included five defeats across an eight-match steak in the Premier League, he was sacked. Chelsea had beaten West Ham and Fulham in two London derbies during that time but it was the manner of the losses to Arsenal and Man City, where the side was 3-0 down in each match that arguably saw him lose his job.
Thomas Tuchel has arrived, changed formation and brought two clean sheets. A 0-0 draw with Wolves saw little created going forward. In the last match, there was more attacking intent and goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso saw Chelsea to a 2-0 home win against Burnley.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea don’t have a single injury to deal with. Thomas Tuchel will need to decide how much to rotate the side with such a big squad at his disposal. He will also need to decide whether the recent 3-4-3 shape with Callum Hudson-Odoi as a wingback is suitable for this match.
With N’Golo Kante loved by Tuchel but not yet fully fit, it will be Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in midfield again. The big question marks are in attack where none of Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud have impressed under the new coach and there are four options for the two spots behind the front man. Hakim Ziyech will be hoping to start after being rested against Burnley and Christian Pulisic did well off the bench in that game too.
Under their new German coach, it’s been all about having a solid “rest defence” structure with five men kept behind the ball at all times. The result has been two excellent defensive performances against Wolves and Burnley but a lack of bodies in forward areas to make and convert enough chances.
For this match, Chelsea will try to win and close the gap to the top four but in their safer structure and using “possession as a way of defending” – they are going to be looking for a clean sheet first-and-foremost.
Chelsea have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 PL matches
The Blues have lost 5 of their last 10 PL matches
Chelsea have lost 4 of their last 5 away PL matches
Chelsea are 6 matches unbeaten against Spurs in 90 minutes (excludes penalty shootouts)
Spurs have won 2 of their last 9 PL matches
Spurs have 1 of their last 4 home PL matches
Tottenham have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 6 home PL matches
Spurs and Chelsea have drawn twice this season in 90 minutes
his looks like a game where Chelsea are the favourites due to how poor Spurs have looked of late. With so many injuries for the home side, the best they can probably hope for is a draw. Another stalemate between these sides may be the best bet.