Even though the focus in recent days has been about the personal issues and comparisons between the two managers, there’s plenty beyond that individual rivalry to make Tottenham and Chelsea the best match the Premier League has to offer this weekend.
Even though Spurs have done terribly against Chelsea in recent years, not winning against the Blues since 2010 and losing at home to that side 4-2 last season, these are new times. They’re tied with Arsenal for the lead after winning 12 points out of 15, and their defensive record, with only one goal conceded so far this season, is the best in Europe’s top leagues at this point of the season.
Their record? Only three wins in the last 42 matches with Chelsea, but all that doesn’t matter when it’s a new set of managers on the sidelines, and an almost completely new squad for Spurs, which might be even more talented than what the visitors have to offer. After all, when you’re able to bring Erik Lamela and Lewis Holtby off the bench, you’ve been doing something right.
There’s also the factor of luck, added to the defense and talent Tottenham have enjoyed so far decisions, with late goals and referee decisions going their way. That usually runs out at some point, but championship teams usually have those things running by their side, so who knows, maybe it’s not just about purchasing talented players like Christian Eriksen.
For Chelsea, there’s one big problem heading into this match, which is how their midfield will look like. Ramires is doubtful and Marco van Ginkel is out for a while. This means Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel will be the duo playing behind the attacking midfield, giving Tottenham a huge advantage in the middle of the pitch with Paulinho and Moussa Dembele. Mourinho can opt to use David Luiz as an extra midfielder, but he hates using ideas thought up by other managers.
Without Aaron Lennon on the wing, it might an excellent chance for Eden Hazard to finally put in his first dominant performance of the season, having a bit less to worry about when it comes to helping defensively on the wing.
Prediction – The Tottenham attack hasn’t been exactly lighting it up due to cohesion and the constant influx of new faces, but facing a weak Chelsea midfield never hurts. From what we’ve seen this season, Chelsea aren’t going to play in a manner that gives them too many chances to win, but Tottenham might not have the firepower to come through, which means we’ll see a draw when it’s all over.