The first big match of the new campaign will see defending champions Chelsea against last season’s runners-up Tottenham at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The Blues will be delighted with not playing at White Hart Lane. They failed to win there in their last four visits, while Mauricio Pochettino’s side went unbeaten on their patch last season, winning 17 of their 19 matches. Wembley has provided little joy for Spurs over the years with their competitive record at the stadium standing at seven defeats in 10 matches, including a 4-2 FA Cup loss against Antonio Conte’s men in April.
Tottenham have beaten Chelsea just once in their last six meetings, with the Blues winning three times. However, the Premier League champions come into this clash off a shocking 3-2 home defeat against Burnley and a thin squad which is missing several of their key players. Spurs secured a comfortable 2-0 win away to Newcastle last weekend and they’ll be confident of putting their Wembley struggles behind them.
Tottenham will be looking to make it back-to-back victories and go six points clear of Chelsea. Despite their struggles at Wembley, Spurs are strong favourites to claim maximum points. In fact, given the predicament Conte’s side are in, anything less than three points will be a huge disappointment.
Spurs have been criticized for their lack of transfer activity, even by their left-back Danny Rose. However, all the money spent in the Premier League cannot buy the telepathic understanding between Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Having played two full seasons together, the dangerous trio barely even need to look at one another to realise what is required. They will look to wreak havoc on Conte’s depleted side.
Kane is proving to be one of the best strikers in the world with Conte a big admirer of the England international. The 24-year-old has won the Premier League Golden Boot in each of the last two seasons and has caused Chelsea a lot of problems. However, Kane has never scored a Premier League goal in August from 11 matches. Last weekend he took the most shots (6) which shows he is trying to put an end to his hoodoo.
In team news, first-choice full-backs Rose and Kieran Trippier are injury doubts, while Erik Lamela remains out with a long-term hip injury. Against Newcastle, Spurs played with youngster Kyle Walker-Peters and Ben Davies, who got on the scoresheet. Davies has the full trust of Pochettino, but the Argentine boss will be sweating on the fitness of Trippier. Walker-Peters certainly impressed against the Magpies last weekend but the 20-year-old could struggle to deal with Chelsea’s attackers.
The Premier League champions are in a major crisis with captain Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas suspended for this tie, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Eden Hazard out injured and Pedro doubtful with an ankle injury, while Nemanja Matic and Nathaniel Chalobah have been sold. It’s no secret that Conte has been frustrated by the lack of signings, but while the board work on bringing new players, the Italian needs to find a solution with what he has against Spurs.
In Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger are expected to play alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who will captain the side. Christensen is likely to play in the middle with Rudiger on the left and with Conte’s options limited in midfield, David Luiz is expected to partner N’Golo Kante in the centre of the pitch.
Luiz has played in that position before, demonstrating his intelligence, vision to pick out passes and excellent ability to read the game. While it wouldn’t surprise me if he put in a top performance against Spurs, what is more of a concern will be making two changes to the back three that kept 16 clean sheets last season. Rudiger and Christensen will have a real battle on their hands when they come up against the likes of Kane and Alli.
Conte will be delighted to have Victor Moses back from suspension. The Nigerian has become a key player for the Blues, proving to be one of the best right-wing backs in Europe. He scored the winner in the 2-1 home win over Spurs last season and was also on the scoresheet in the Community Shield defeat against Arsenal in the beginning of the month.
Alvaro Morata should start ahead of Michy Batshuayi after impressing on his debut last weekend. The former Real Madrid striker came off the bench to score and set up Luiz against Burnley, showing encouraging signs that he could prove an able successor to Diego Costa. The Blues looked more threatening with Morata leading the line and he’ll definitely cause problems for Pochettino’s side. Pedro is optimistic of returning from injury which will be a huge boost for the Premier League champions.
Lloris (c); Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Dier; Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Dembele, Davies; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Luiz, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Pedro.
Prediction: Kane and Morata to score anytime (5/1)
With Chelsea missing several of their key players and short on numbers, Spurs are tipped to claim maximum points. But for more value, have a punt on Hollywoodbets’ Price Boosts and Specials and take Kane and Morata to score anytime at 5/1.
You might like to check out our Soccer / Football App