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London derby: Chelsea and Tottenham clash at the capital


Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (2nd L) jumps to score his and Totenham’s second goal with this header during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London, on January 4, 2017. PHOTO: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

The English Premier League returned with a blast last weekend as we witnessed 31 goals from the ten matches that were played, that’s an average of three goals per match. There was a seven-goal thriller at the Emirates, a massive shock at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford looked like a home fortress again and we saw one of the new teams cause an upset at Selhurst Park.

Most of the big-name signings were also on target on their debuts, the likes of Alexander Lacazette, Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Mo Salah, Wayne Rooney (his second debut for Everton) and Steve Mounie all gave their fans reasons to put their faith in them for the new season. This just reminded the whole world of how exciting and competitive the league is and why it’s the most watched football league in the world. The competition resumes this weekend with another set of ten fixtures, but I will be focusing my lens on the marquee fixture of the weekend which will be taking place at Wembley when Tottenham welcome Chelsea to their new albeit temporary home.

This London derby is a battle between last season’s champions and runners-up as they look to assert superiority in the race for the 2017-18 title. The Champions will arrive at the national stadium still reeling from last weekend’s shock home defeat against Burnley and will be severely depleted with the loss of Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas who got suspended during that loss.

Tottenham, on the other hand, will be brimming with confidence after their opening day win over Newcastle, despite no new additions to their squad from last season. Asides the loss of Fabregas and Cahill, one of their most influential players, Eden Hazard is a huge doubt for this game, the Belgian has been out since June after fracturing his ankle on National team duty, while new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko is also injured and will have to wait to make his Chelsea debut. This will be a huge problem for Antonio Conte, who has previously complained about the size of his squad being too small.

One factor that the visitors will be hoping to play into their hands will be the fact that Tottenham’s record at the home of English football is not impressive at all, Spurs have lost seven of their last eleven games at Wembley and this includes Chelsea’s 4-2 win in last season’s FA Cup semi-final. However, they showed some encouraging signs in pre-season defeating a fully-strengthened Juventus side at Wembley and they will definitely need to be at their best to ensure they get off to a winning start at Wembley this season when the match kicks off.

Harry Kane has not always had the best of times finding the back of the net in the month of August, but the Spurs striker must be licking his lips at the prospect of how he might be able to explore the weakened defense of Chelsea. Dele Alli also seems to have continued from where he left off from last season as he was on target against Newcastle last weekend and will want to inflict more pain on Chelsea.

The midfield battle will be key for Tottenham as Chelsea are really lacking in that department with Hazard and Bakayoko injured, Fabregas suspended, Nemanja Matic and Nathaniel Chalobah sold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek out on loan, while for Tottenham, this is one of their strongest departments as they are well stacked with the likes of Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Dembele, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen.

Chelsea’s big money signing, Alvaro Morata began life at the Bridge impressively, scoring one and setting up the other off the bench against Burnley. He should start in this game and will be raring to show that he’s the real deal, but he will be coming up against the best defence in the league for the past two seasons and this will be one of the biggest and sternest tests he will face in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino finished last season playing 3-4-2-1, but reverted to a 4-2-3-1 system against Newcastle last weekend and could stick to that formation in this game to take full advantage of Chelsea’s deficiencies in midfield. Spurs are well known for their high-pressing style, with the likes of Alli, Eriksen and Son all dropping back and working hard to win possession when they are without the ball. Antonio Conte will most likely stick to his favoured 3-4-2-1 system despite last weekend’s shock defeat to Burnley. This should be a very thrilling game and it will be interesting to see how it plays out!

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