Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
It’s easy to take a look at Jose Mourinho’s time as Tottenham manager – with its uninspiring performances and rotten luck with injuries – and conclude that he’s not been worth the undoubtedly huge salary he’s picking up. However, statistically, Spurs have picked up more points since Mourinho’s appointment than any other Premier League club with the obvious exception of Liverpool.
That may be testament to a generalised mediocrity among Premier League clubs, by which we mean it definitely is, but it does mean that Chelsea will have to lift themselves to win at home against their former manager and his current side. This lift is especially necessary considering that in 2020, the Blues have won just once in the league – against Burnley on the 11th of January. However, with the inopportune injury suffered by Son Heung-min, Spurs are looking thin up front.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham
Last season, an injury to Harry Kane threatened to derail Spurs’ season, but it turned out that – in thrusting Son into a more attacking role – it saw them oddly strengthened. So with Kane suffering a hamstring injury and missing until April, Son has become vitally important to his side’s hopes. So the South Korean international’s broken arm really couldn’t have come at a worse time for his club. For as long as Mourinho ploughs ahead with the obviously doomed experiment in trying to make a striker out of Lucas Moura, Tottenham will struggle to play the game in their opponent’s half – and Chelsea should really make hay here.
Our recommended tip: BTTS: No
These are two sides who, in a strong Premier League season, would stand little chance of finishing in the top four – however, thanks to Manchester City’s alleged financial shenanigans, both may well end up in the Champions League next season. Chelsea will be hoping for the return from injury of Tammy Abraham, on whose goalscoring knack their best performances have rested this season. If he’s missing, that means the three most reliable goalscorers across these two sides will be absent from the pitch. As it is, Spurs’ attack is so blunted that Ladbrokes’ 21/20 on the stated market seems like value.
It is to be hoped that whatever happens on the pitch across the 90 minutes, this match is less soul-destroying than the miserable shambles that took place on the weekend before Christmas at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Spurs were abysmal, and Chelsea didn’t need to be at their best to win 2-0 in a match where Son was sent off on the hour for the home side. The match also needed to be stopped on three separate occasions as visiting defender Antonio Rudiger was racially abused from the stands. Two first-half goals from Willian decided the margin of victory, but the footballing side of things was swiftly forgotten post-match.
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Players to watch: Mateo Kovacic & Harry Winks
Kovacic is a classic Croatian central midfielder – with a game rounded enough to fit into any of the typical midfield roles of dribbler, distributor or even holding player. In the absence through injury of NGolo Kante this versatility will be all the more essential, as Jorginho will sit deep and Mason Mount is set to be the player who breaks forward. Kovacic will slot into Kante’s box-to-box role and seek to be the link between defence and attack; his ability to do that will decide who wins this game.
If Spurs fans are wondering what has happened to Eric Dier, then they might be best served focusing their attentions on Winks. The youth system product is like nothing the English scene has produced in decades, with an instinct for receiving and protecting the ball that is more familiar in Spanish and Portuguese midfielders. Much like the classy Dier, in fact, who learned the ropes at Sporting Lisbon. In a match where his side may find the ball hard to come by, Winks’ qualities in using possession will be all the more vital.