As we hurtle headfirst towards a frenetic festive Premier League schedule, the last weekend in November hosts a potentially crucial clash between two of the low-key title contenders.
Old friends and colleagues will meet in the dusk at Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho occupies the away dugout, facing his former player Frank Lampard as both clubs look to take the lead in the Premier League table.
The underlying stories are rife approaching this London derby, and we’re here to discuss all the key talking points ahead of Sunday. Remember to check out the rest of our Chelsea vs Tottenham predictions here.
Old friends lock horns as Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge
If you go looking for a successful modern day player-manager relationship, you’d do very well to do better than Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard.
The two, along with a number of other Chelsea players, enjoyed huge success together throughout Mourinho’s time at Stamford Bridge, winning five trophies in his first three year stint along with a number of individual accolades.
Mourinho landed two Premier League Manager of the Season awards and the Onze d’Or Coach of the Year, while Lampard picked up a Premier League Player of the Season award and took silver in the FIFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or. It truly was a match made in heaven for those glorious three years.
Now, with both men having a few more grey hairs and wrinkles, the two old friends meet as enemies for 90 minutes at Mourinho’s old stomping ground.
It’s not the first time they’ve locked horns, and it’s the student that’s enjoyed the most success so far.
Spurs and Chelsea have met three times in all competitions since Mourinho’s arrival in North London just over a year ago, with Chelsea winning both Premier League encounters and Spurs beating the Blues on penalties in a League Cup clash in September.
But how do they stack up against one another in the bigger picture? Does the student still trump the master? As it turns out, no.
The original Special One is leading the way as far as points per game are concerned, winning 54% of his Premier League games since taking charge at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Lampard isn’t far off with a 53% win ratio, but Chelsea’s propensity to lose games under Lampard hampers them.
Of course, all that flies out of the window when the two stare at each other across their technical areas on Sunday. Both Spurs and Chelsea have been fantastic so far this season and just two points separates them heading into this clash, and if either team emerges victorious they would find themselves top of the table as we enter December.
Underdogs clash in potential title decider
Speaking of being top of the table, as the 2020/21 campaign rattles on the Premier League table is finally starting to take shape, and things aren’t looking quite as cut and dry as they were back at the start of the season.
Liverpool and Manchester City have both been on the wrong end of huge upsets, and while Liverpool find themselves at the summit at the time of writing they are by no means guaranteed a successful defence of their title.
After a season of extraordinary good fortune in terms of injuries, the football gods have really taken a swipe at Liverpool in the opening stages of the new season. They’re in the midst of a massive injury crisis at the back and have conceded 17 goals already – more than half of their overall tally last season.
Meanwhile, Manchester City are some six points adrift of the top spot and have won just four of their nine matches. The path is clear for an underdog to take control of this title race, and both of these sides are in prime position to do so.
Chelsea, after a summer of heavy investment, were touted as the pre-season dark horses, but Spurs have come from nowhere to challenge the status quo thanks to their incredible attacking force.
While Liverpool and Man City still lead the markets, Chelsea and Spurs are closing in and head into this clash as joint third favourites for the crown.
Make no mistake, come May we could very well be talking about this match as a turning point in the title race.
Battle of the strikers – Kane vs Werner
The age-old adage says that titles are won at the back, but 2020/21 has been a season like no other so far.
Goals have flowed at an unprecedented rate, and these teams have scored an incredible 43 league goals between them already. They are two of the three highest scoring teams in the league, and both have genuine world-class talent leading the line.
For Chelsea, that man is Timo Werner. The Premier League newcomer hasn’t quite hit the heights of last season in his first term at the Bridge, but his quality is clear for all to see and he can create chances out of nothing.
Even after failing to score in his opening four Premier League games, Werner was still playing with that same ruthless edge that saw him plunder 28 Bundesliga goals last season. His confidence seems utterly unbreakable, and it’s only a matter of time before we see him on the scoresheet again.
Harry Kane is obviously the more established figure, and it’s shown so far this season. The Spurs talisman has seven goals in nine top flight appearances, but he’s added another string to his bow by providing nine assists. To put that into perspective, that’s more assists than he’s managed in his last three seasons combined.
It’s clear to see which of these two superstars is having the better season, but it’s important to remember that this is Werner’s first season in the Premier League and it took him a few games to adjust.
He has most certainly adjusted though. He’s scored seven goals in his last nine competitive appearances for the Blues and provided a further three assists. He’s off the mark in England now and, at just 24 years old, he could be leading the Chelsea line for some time.
Still, looking at their history, I know who I’d prefer in my team.
The supporting cast
Boiling this high-profile clash down to simple battles between Mourinho and Lampard and Kane and Werner doesn’t do justice to the rest of the players though, especially when they have performed to such a high level so far this season.
These sides possess two of the most potent attacking forces in the Premier League and, in Heung-min Son and Harry Kane, Spurs have arguably one of the best attacking partnerships in recent memory at their disposal. We’ve already discussed Kane’s impressive record, but Son has netted nine goals in as many league games this season and is every bit as threatening as his striking partner.
That’s not even mentioning a certain Gareth Bale. If those three can remain fit this season, they could very well guide Mourinho’s men to the silverware the Spurs fans so desperately crave.
Chelsea, despite boasting the likes of Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, are surprisingly less reliant on their attacking players. Kurt Zouma is the joint second highest scorer in the Chelsea squad this season alongside Jorginho, while Ben Chilwell has banged two in as well.
The Blues have goals coming from all areas of the pitch. Defenders have contributed some 32% of their Premier League goals this season and, with Joe Rodon looking likely to be making his full debut in the centre of Tottenham’s defence, nullifying that threat will be key.
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