Spurs start with slight edge


Werner could prove pivotal to Chelsea’s ambitions of winning. — AP

An intriguing Premier League clash is on the cards at Stamford Bridge tomorrow where Chelsea will entertain Jose Mourinho’s early season pace-setters Tottenham Hotspur.

Elsewhere, Arsenal welcome gritty Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Emirates and Manchester United travel to Southampton.

The London derby that pits Spurs against third-placed Chelsea in the match of the weekend has great potential for an explosive coming-together. And to suggest there might be a red card or two in this one, would not be a case of dwelling in the wilderness.

Both sides will be fired up for the occasion. Both will have serious intentions of strengthening their credentials for a legitimate crack at the title. And what better way to do it than at the expense of your city rivals, those whom you loathe unlike any other.

Tottenham might start with a slight edge, given that they are atop the standings and have played more consistently and purposefully than any of their rivals, including Liverpool and Manchester City.

Having said that, one must give Chelsea some credit for how they have acquitted themselves since the defeat to Liverpool in the third week of September. In the 13 games since (in all competitions) they lost only one, albeit on penalties (5-4) to Spurs in the League Cup on Sept 29.

In that run they have scored 35 goals and conceded a mere nine. The highlight of this was qualification of the last 16 of the Champions League in midweek.

It might still be too early to start singing Frank Lampard’s praises. But the former Blues star certainly appears to be doing something right at Chelsea.

A win tomorrow would really get tongues wagging at Stamford Bridge and to some extent across the Premier League landscape.

But it is unlikely to come easy with Mourinho steering Spurs out in front. He won the league three times at Chelsea — twice with Lampard in his squad.

The Portuguese boss seems to have found the right formula too at Tottenham and it will be foolhardy, even if it is early days of the campaign, to dismiss the threat that he poses.

Spurs have played with much conviction and a structured approach, But they also have a handful of players who can carry them all the way to the title — if they continue in the same vein.

England skipper and prolific goal scorer Harry Kane is the first name on the team sheet. And working in unison with Son Heung-Min, he has formed a deadly partnership up front.

The support from Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko in midfield has not gone unnoticed in the 4-2-3-1 formation. But it is Spurs’ backline that appears to have benefitted most from Mourinho’s intervention.

Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier in central defence have been pillars of strength.

Notwithstanding this, Spurs should face a tough time when they come up against the likes of Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Kai Havertz or Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud — depending on who Lampard elects to go with.

At the Emirates in London, Arsenal will come up against a Wolves outfit that always seems difficult to beat. The visitors are one point and four places above the Gunners in the log standings.

Despite this, Arsenal should see off Wolves and begin to make sustained progress after showing signs of some marked improvement under Spaniard Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Leeds last weekend when Nicolas Pepe was sent off for head-butting and was widely criticised for it. He has since apologised for his waywardness but will still miss tomorrow’s game.

For Arsenal, it might only be home advantage that tips the scales in their favour, but that in itself might be all they need to win, even by a single goal.

It will not matter much how they win, if they win. That is the telling thing — winning.

Southampton are fifth, while Man United find themselves in 10th spot with a game in hand over their hosts. And this one could go either way.

But an away win does have its backers and with good reason — this one should be cracker too.

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Metro Central , Sport , Football , FootNotes , Chelsea , Spurs

   

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