So in another disciple v mentor clash, one of number this season in the Premier League we have the promising and ever-improving Frank Lampard against the war veteran Jose Mourinho. They have faced each other before but never has there been as much riding on a clash as there is today, and it will be interesting to see if they remain friendly towards each other in the heat of battle. Both have incredibly fiery temprements on the touchline and are 'winners' - so I suspect if it is anything but a draw, they will find it hard to contain hostilities.
Chelsea were the summer window's big spenders and with the number of new faces, it was understandable that Lampard's side had made a stuttering start to the campaign though it raised concerns about whether this would prove to be a transitional season rather than one in which they could mount a serious title challenge. After their disappointing draw against United (where they managed a paltry xG of 0.25), the return to fitness of key playmaker Ziyech has transformed the outlook of this Chelsea team and they now seem to have gelled as a unit with him pulling the strings in a way Havertz could not.
Tactically, Lampard has favored a 4-3-3 system (and a 4-2-3-1) that focusses on inverted forwards and quick counters. At the start of the season, Lampard seemed confused as to how to utilise Timo Werner. The forward started in the central striking position and drifted wide around the channels pulling the opposition center back with him but he found it hard with his back to goal. Lampard soon realised Timo is more effective when making darting inverted runs via the inside left channel. With Ziyech being incorporated into the side successfully as well as mobile target man Tammy Abrahams, Werner can focus on doing what he does best.
Chelsea has been winning matches but their defense was once again looking porous, with 9 goals conceded in their first 5 games. All of a sudden, things began to click defensively and now their defensive XGC is the best in the league. How has this happened? well it seems Lampard has stumbled upon a rock solid partnership with the guile and positional class of Thiago Silva, with the legs and aggression of Kurt Zouma. Their defensive chemistry has been brilliant, and with them also possessing two of the best balanced full backs in the league and Kante in front of them... this Chelsea side now look hard to beat.
After an abject performance in the opening game, many would not have expected Spurs to be one of the most potent attacking forces in the Premier League and going into this weekend's fixture sitting at the top of the table. But writing off a Jose Mourinho side in the second season of his tenure is a recipe for ridicule and Mourinho has marshalled his men well, with a particular high point proving that decimation of Manchester United and the tactical dismantling of Manchester City. Now he faces up to a genuine rival for the league who happens to be in great form themselves and that presents a true test of this Spurs sides mettle.
Son is turning out to be a world class talent and his intelligent runs and movement off the ball will vital if Spurs are to win this game. And while you need runners off the ball, you need players that provide the perfect pass. And Mourinho has the luxury of having three such players at the top of their game. Firstly there is Harry 'Hidegkuti' Kane, who seems to be revelling as the false 9/second striker/10 hybrid and further afield Ndombele has been scintilating when starting matches in the Premier League, whilst Lo Cleso might get the nod ahead this time after his wonderful performance off the bench against Manchester City.
New signing Sergio Reguilon gave a wonderful account of himself in Spurs game last weekend in the Premier League. It is s sign that the players now understand exactly what their coach wants from them. The results are there for everyone to watch. Hojberg has done well in midfield providing the screen to cover for their the defense. Mourinho's backs to wall approach might not be the prettiest to watch but results have shown that it is arguably the most effective. The game is all about tangible outcomes and Mourinho's side has all the positives in that respect.
Mourinho's sides are disciplined and defend in numbers. That has been his trademark and it is sure to stay that way especially in the big games where caution is the priority number one. It will be interesting to see if the few injuries sustained during the previous round of games have recovered but Mourinho needs his first choice back line to be fit and running as they do not have much depth in the defensive department in central areas.
Spurs win over the Citizens last weekend has to be a real confidence booster. And they will look to build on it. With teams trying to adjust to the current environment with injuries and COVID 19 related issues, Mourinho's side look healthy and fit. Tactically this match seems tailor made for the Portuguese tactics. His counter attacking system will be key in this match and yet again Spurs will rely on scoring early on and defending their lead.
Lampard needs a consistent midfield three. He has changed his middle men too many times and while Chelsea have won matches, they have yet to produce a top performance against the top clubs. The midfield combination will have to be perfect. As mentioned earlier, the first goal will have a huge bearing on the final outcome. Fans and coach alike will be expecting a big performance from Jorginho, Kovacic and Kante (if they start).
Mourinho might be tempted to play an even faster, more aggressive front line. Chances are he will not. Son will start though and Lo Celso's performance agains Manchester City might earn him a starting berth. Mourinho will play with two anchorman and his backs to the wall approach means the onus will be on Chelsea to break it down. If Spurs score first (which they will: 28th odd min maybe?), they will win it.
Tottenham Hotspurs H. lloris,, E. Dier, T. Alderweireld, S. Reguilon, M. Doherty, P. Hojberg, M. Sissoko, Lo Celso, L. Moura, Son, H. Kane (Formation: 4-2-1-3)
Chelsea FC: E. Mendy, T.Silva, K. Zouma, Ben Chilwell, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Kante, Mason Mount, T. Werner, Ziyech (Formation: 4-3-3).
Predicted Outcome: A 1-2 win for Spurs.