Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
With two wins from nine in the Premier League, Harry Kane sidelined and whispers about his future abound, Jose Mourinho will feel like the walls are closing in at Tottenham ahead of Thursday’s London derby against Chelsea.
A victory for the Portuguese manager against his former employers would be an instant narrative changer, however, a Chelsea team desperate to a first major statement of intent under Thomas Tuchel will be tough to stop.
Tottenham and Chelsea are locked on 33 points each in 6th and 7th place respectively ahead of Thursday’s capital clash, though it already feels like there is far more on offer than a handful of Premier League points in North London.
Remember- you can find our Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea predictions here, complete with betting tips and analysis of the game.
Mourinho hoping to avoid unwanted records
Remarkably, Jose Mourinho has never lost successive home matches in the Premier League, however, that proud record could tumble on Thursday.
Tottenham were torn to ribbons in their last outing on home soil by champions Liverpool at the end of January, and having failed to mastermind a win against Chelsea in his last six attempts, Mourinho will be fearing the worst again.
In fact, if Tottenham stutter against the Blues, Mourinho will also match his longest ever winless run against a single opponent. The acerbic Portuguese boss was unable to get the better of Barcelona for seven straight encounters during this time in charge of Real Madrid between April 2011 and January 2012, and now the 58-year-old faces matching that horrible sequence against his former club.
Thomas Tuchel meanwhile, could be become the first Chelsea manager since 2004 to keep clean sheets in his first three games in charge – a record currently held by none other than……Jose Mourinho.
Incidentally, Mourinho and Tuchel have never faced off from opposite dugouts before, and their first tactical duel could hardly feel more significant.
Harry Kane’s absence key
Harry Kane’s injury has left a gaping hole in the Tottenham Hotspur attack, and shorn of their prolific talisman, Spurs look like a demolition crew without a wrecking ball.
In their limp defeat at Brighton last time out, Tottenham recorded an xG (Expected Goals) figure of just 0.37 without Kane – which was the lowest xG stat posted by any Premier League team in the competition’s last round of fixtures.
Kane came off at half time in Tottenham’s 3-1 reverse at home to Liverpool on January 28 in a defeat where Spurs recorded an even meeker 0.10 xG, and with their inspirational skipper in the treatment room, it’s difficult to see how they can improve their output in the final third against Chelsea.
With an incredible 12 goals and 11 assists in 19 starts, Kane has contributed to a huge 64.7% of Tottenham’s overall Premier League haul in 2020/21 – while his partner in crime, Son Heung-min, has benefitted from nine Kane assists this term.
Chelsea fans get first taste of Tuchel-ball
Thomas Tuchel landed his first win as Chelsea Head Coach against Burnley last week, and while the Blues’ performance didn’t quite get pulses racing, there were enough glimpses of the German’s footballing philosophy to stir up some excitement about the direction the team could take under his watch.
Deployed in an unusual, fluid 3-4-2-1 formation, Chelsea enjoyed a whopping 71.1% of the ball against Burnley, just days after the Blues had dominated an even bigger 78.9% of the possession against Wolves.
With wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi excelling in new roles, Chelsea mustered 19 attempts to Burnley’s one, and but for Nick Pope’s seven saves, the Londoners might have padded out their 2-0 victory.
Interestingly, eight of Chelsea’s players managed at least one attempt on goal against Burnley, while seven Blues combatants had a shot against Wolves, suggesting that Tuchel has given licence to all of his troops to join in attacking phases of play.
45/1 Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea #OddsOnThat
Chelsea to win
Chelsea are unbeaten in four previous Premier League meetings with Tottenham, and with the Blues’ players looking motivated and full of enthusiasm under new boss Thomas Tuchel, a derby day victory in North London looks possible.
Harry Kane’s absence should prove pivotal and we expect to see a toothless Tottenham team toil again on Thursday.
Under 3.5 goals
That same lack of final third threat from the hosts could also see Thursday’s game finish with a modest final scoreline. It’s also worth noting that recent meetings between Spurs and Chelsea have been tight, and under 2.5 goals backers have been rewarded in four of their last five encounters.
Moving up slightly to under 3.5 goals also gives us a nice cushion to work with, and with Tottenham hitting the net one or fewer times in seven of their last nine top-flight matches, we can’t see that threshold being passed.
Mason Mount & Timo Werner 2+ shots each
Mason Mount and Timo Werner almost played like two number 10’s against Burnley, and the diminutive attackers both seemed to enjoy themselves in the pockets of space behind striker Tammy Abraham.
Neither player got on the scoresheet, though Mount and Werner topped the attempts charts against the Clarets with four and three shots respectively, and the same pair can threaten again on Thursday.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg booked
Combative Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has already been booked seven times for club and country this season, and the ex-Bayern Munich starlet will expect to be in the thick of action again against Chelsea.
Interestingly, three of Hojbjerg’s four Premier League cautions this term were collected in fixtures played at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, and the mean streak the 25-year-old displays on his own stomping ground makes him worth backing to get booked again.
Under 4.5 Tottenham Hotspur corners
The early evidence from Thomas Tuchel’s reign coupled with Tottenham’s habit of ceding possession in big games suggests Chelsea will control the ball for large periods on Thursday, and Spurs could struggle to win corners as a result.
Tottenham won a miserable three corners combined in their last two league assignments against Liverpool and Brighton, and Spurs could fall well short of standards in that particular set-piece department again this week.
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