W atching Potter's Brighton in midweek was a reminder that the back three system is not a blast from the past but a glimpse of the future. The likes of Tuchel and Conte are all too aware that when implemented correctly and with the right personnel, it remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing systems in the game.
Having said that both managers come into this derby with a sense of trepidation, with lingering concerns as to how compatible their group of players are with their designated systems and whether they are of the sufficient quality to satisfy their manager's lofty ambitions.
In terms of injuries, Chelsea are missing Chilwell, James, Christensen, Chalobah and Mendy who is at AFCON. Spurs are sorely missing Son as well as Dier and Romero. Expect Chelsea to rejig their forward line after back to back games with Lukaku as the frontman failing to yield any success. Spurs will probably look to integrate the in form Bergwijn into their starting XI after his late goals against Leicester and perhaps use him and Moura either side of Kane.
Without further ado let us dive into the key tactical issues which could decide this London Derby.
Spurs failed to press Chelsea with any real intensity during their League Cup games. With a PPDA of near 20 across both legs, they simply handed the initiative over to Chelsea and failed to make their presence felt on the counter - the absence of Son proving especially telling. With Son still absent it is difficult to see anything changing on this front unless Conte plays Bergwijn and Moura behind Kane to give the team some legs up front.
It is a shame because this Chelsea team is there for taking with morale low and the thought of slipping out of the top four not providing this squad with sufficient motivation at the moment, For Conte to preserve his unbeaten league record, he needs to take the game to Chelsea.
It is no secret that Chelsea are not an easy watch when it comes to chance creation and finishing in the final third, which begs the question - why on earth is Havertz not utilised more? He is by far the best focal point Chelsea have and they play their best football when he is operating as the false 9. He may not be the man who grabs the goal or the killer pass but he makes everyone look better and Chelsea feel more elite when he's leading the line.
For Spurs to keep a clean sheet, it is imperative that they are not left wanting in transitional situations. Lukaku thrives on space and if he starts, it is important to one defender drop off on loss of ball possession, On the flip side, dropping off and going into a low block is not an option if Spurs want to be able to dent Chelsea's defence so a balancing act needs to be struck.
Chelsea hounded Tottenham in possession during their League Cup encounters with an aggressive PPDA of 7 across both legs. Quite frankly there is not enough ball playing ability in Tottenham's backline to compete with the big boys and whilst the introduction of Winks has helped Spurs pass between the lines better, it still isn't satisfactory.
They miss the assured presence of Alderweirald and Vertonghen, men of genuine class and intelligence. The current backline looks agricultural in comparison and the same could be said for the midfield... where they no longer possess players of the ilk of Dembele and Eriksen. A major rebuild needs to be carried out at the club for Spurs to become competitive once again.
In attack, Spurs came alive in the last few minutes of their encounter with Leicester but in truth they did not look penetrative against Leicester for large spells of the game despite having a lot of the ball. The sale of Kane and using it to regenerate the attack is of utmost important for Spurs if they are to enjoy a new cycle of success. For now they need to find the best way of extracting some life from their 9 and it is not going to happen if he only has Lucas Moura for support.
It is simply too easy for the likes of Silva and Rudiger to keep him quiet if he isolated and there is no other goal threat to speak of. Conte has to be more bold in his wing back choices and go for broke. Moura and Gil as wing backs, Dembele at CAM, Bergwijn behind Kane. He needs to let Spurs off the leash if they are to produce an upset here even if Chelsea are wallowing in self pity.
Conte remains unbeaten in the league with his wig just about intact but there is only so many times his malfunctioning Spurs side can grind out a result. Chelsea are at a real low moment and the fans have started to mumble. Tuchel may not know it but his job is in increasing peril. He needs to sort out his ideas fast and if he can do that going into this fixture, Spurs could roll over as easily as they did in the league Cup.
Prediction... If Chelsea persist with Lukaku, and Spurs go with a bolder team selection, this could be a surprise result in Spurs favour although the odds are against them. If Chelsea go with a Havertz led frontline and Spurs stick with the Kane/Moura combo, then it is hard to look beyond a home win. Fortune favours the bold in this one.