The time is almost here. The London derby.
The London derby has always been known to be Arsenal vs Spurs, but the emergence of Tottenham and the downfall of Arsenal in the last decade has lead to Chelsea vs Spurs being a much more feisty fixture.
After all, one of the best matches in Premier League history was our draw at Stamford Bridge against the white team in North London. Chelsea went 2-0 down and the mood in the stadium dropped right to the very bottom as the Blue fans realised they were 9th in the table and feared the thought of Spurs winning the league. Hazard came on at Half-Time, and before you know it he scores one top bins to end Tottenham’s dreams, and win Leicester City the Premier League. Stamps on hands, reckless tackles, saliva being thrown around, fights every minute – it truly is a miracle how there wasn’t a red card on that day, but I guess it only filled the hatred for one another. Spurs players themselves have said afterwards that they see Chelsea as a bigger rival than Arsenal, and Eden Hazard has said many times that he didn’t want Spurs to win the league, and that the Lilywhites winning the Champions League against Liverpool ‘would be a disaster’.
Now, it seems even more exciting than ever. Jose Mourinho vs Frank Lampard. Master vs Apprentice. Although, last season the apprentice came out on top twice, with some of the best performances of the season – Super Frank being the only manager to ever do the double over Jose. In his first season at Chelsea? That’s pretty impressive to me. The level of performance just rose right from the first minute, and that’s a clear sign of how much the derby means to Lampard, and I’m sure he will be installing that into the players once again this season, especially as they will be wanting to take revenge after Mason Mount missed the penalty against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup this season to kick us out of the competition. I guess in that game we weren’t playing the likes of James, Silva, Havertz, Ziyech, Pulisic – and these players will definitely want to make their mark across London this weekend.
Even if we remove all of the history, it’s still a huge fixture. Spurs and Chelsea will definitely quietly think they can challenge Liverpool to the League this season, if not the next few. Chelsea find themselves in third place, two points behind Tottenham and Liverpool, and a victory for the Blues would take us to the top of the league, and possibbly re-inforce the fact to some Chelsea fans that perhaps we can win the League this season. I don’t like to get ahead of myself that much, but I think the thoughts of Lampard lifting the Premier League trophy as manager, while the academy boys such as Mount, Abraham, James, Hudson-Odoi and Tomori all stand behind him, as well as world class signings like Havertz, Ziyech, Silva and Pulisic, is just getting to me. Like – imagine that?! But, we have to start winning big games, and today would be a great start.
When and Where?
Chelsea face Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge – Kick-Off 16:30 (UK). The game will be available to watch on Sky Sports, with there being pre-match coverage and live commentary on the Fifth Stand.
Team News and Squad Updates:
Frank Lampard revealed on Friday that the whole squad is available for selection this weekend. He mentioned specifically that Kai Havertz gained some valuable minutes midweek against Rennes, and that Christian Pulisic is fit but that ‘fit to start’ could be a question mark. Whether Billy Gilmour will be involved in the squad is yet to be seen.
Spurs do have a few more problems than us. It was stated by football.london that Hugo Lloris suffered an illness on Wednesday and that a late decision would be made as whether he’s fit to start against Chelsea – if not, Joe Hart will start for Mourinho’s side. They will also be missing Erik Lamela who scored against us in the Carabao Cup this season, as well as Alderwiereld who looks to be out for the opposition for another two weeks. There will be late checks on Lo Celso and Bergwijn, although I assume they will just about make the squad.
The key battle(s) for me will be Kante and Silva vs Son and Kane. Despite it being a few years late, people are actually realising Harry Kane’s passing abilities and that he isn’t just a striker who scores goals. His partnership with Son has been highlighted in the last few Premier League games, with both being in top form at the moment.
Kane has been dropping a lot deeper and playing into Son who is running in behind this season. The French midfielder will certainly have to keep an eye on the England captain when he drops deeper, and that won’t be easy as he’ll also have the likes of Ndombele and Lo Celso to keep an eye on, two incredible midfielders on the ball who can really push forward from midfield. Thiago Silva would have faced incredibly fast attackers in his career and I’m sure Frank Lampard would have made the Brazilian aware of Son’s ability, so we can hope that the 36 year old will be able to deal with him despite not having anywhere near as much pace.
If Chelsea can keep these two forwards quiet for as long as possible, it will give real confidence to the rest of the team, and with our attacking ability you would expect us to score.
It certainly will be interesting to see what Lampard does, and I think it all depends on whether Kai Havertz is fit enough to start. If he isn’t, I have a feeling we could switch to a three at the back formation, although I do hope we stick with the 4-3-3 and play Kovacic a bit deeper and closer to Kante if needed. Saying that, here’s my predicted lineup:
Chelsea predicted lineup (4-3-3): Mendy, Chilwell, Zouma, Silva, James, Kante, Mount, Havertz, Werner, Abraham, Ziyech.
If Kai Havertz isn’t fit to start, we could either see Kovacic come in for Havertz in the 4-3-3 as he has done the last few games, or switching to three at the back seems more likely, with Azpilicueta coming into the defence, and with Mount out wide.
Do you agree with my predicted lineup and pre-match thoughts? Make sure to let us know on our social media platforms!
We also recorded a preview for this game on our very own podcast with special guest Alison Bender, which you can listen to on all our listening platforms:
Written by Paree