The Blues make the short trip across London to take on a Spurs side that are out of form under Jose Mourinho
Thomas Tuchel has used 16 different players in his opening two matches as Chelsea head coach. And that number will likely increase further when the Blues take on Tottenham Hotspur this evening.
The German head coach is a little more than a week into his reign at Stamford Bridge and has had little chance to relax. There have been two matches, an official unveiling, a pre-match press conference, transfer deadline day, and, of course, plenty of work on the training pitches at Cobham.
Through it all, there has been a smile on the face of Tuchel. And that will only grow wider if Chelsea can overcome Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
It will be the first time that Chelsea’s new head coach goes up against the most-successful manager in the club’s history: Jose Mourinho. Although Tuchel was at pains to stress this was a contest between two teams, not two coaches.
“I strongly believe that it’s Tottenham against Chelsea and not me against Jose,” he said ahead of the game.
“I’m very happy to compete with a strong team against his side. I’m very happy to arrive with a squad with our quality, with our mentality, with the atmosphere that we are in right now. This is the most important.
“He (Mourinho) is one of the best managers in the world and has created a squad at Tottenham that’s very, very competitive, very, very strong. That will be the challenge for us.”
Tuchel has set his side up in a 3-4-3 shape in his opening two games in charge and that is unlikely to change against Spurs. The personnel within it almost certainly will.
In between the posts will almost certainly be Edouard Mendy. The Senegal international has played both games under the German coach and remains Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper.
Having kept back-to-back clean sheets against Wolves and Burnley, there is little need for Tuchel to change his back three. So expect Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger to remain in the side.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has starred as Chelsea’s right wing-back under Tuchel and will likely keep his place. His defensive acumen in the role should, however, be given a greater test by Spurs.
On the opposite flank, expect Marcos Alonso to retain his spot. Tuchel mentioned in the build-up to the game that the Spaniard is more of a natural in the left wing-back than Ben Chilwell.
And Alonso does have a habit of producing big moments against Spurs in the Premier League; he has registered three goals and an assist in eight top-flight matches for Chelsea against Tottenham.
In midfield, N’Golo Kante should return. The Frenchman missed four consecutive games with a hamstring injury and was only an unused substitute against Burnley on Sunday. But his industry will be important in snuffing out counter attacks by Mourinho’s side.
Alongside Kante will likely be Jorginho. The Italian has started both of Tuchel’s games in charge and his ability to help Chelsea maintain possession will be needed to help sustain attacks.
Which players fill the front three positions is not easy to call. Hakim Ziyech, who was given the weekend off, is a likely starter due to being fresh. Next to him should be Mason Mount, with his energy without the ball and invention on it qualities Tuchel appreciates.
The frontman may prove to be Olivier Giroud. Given Tottenham’s form – they’ve won just three of their last ten Premier League games – it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mourinho set his side up in a low block and challenge Chelsea to break it down.
If that scenario does play out, Giroud’s subtly in and around the penalty area may enable the Blues to unlock Spurs’ backline.
Predicted Chelesa team vs Tottenham (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Ziyech, Giroud, Mount
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