Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, 19th September, kick off 4:30pm

by John Spillane

Four games into the season and two local rivals, lying in second and seventh, separated by just a point, come face to face as Chelsea visit North London again, having won 2-0 at Arsenal only a few weeks ago.

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Prior to last weekend, Nuno Espírito Santo's team were top of the league with a 100% record from their opening three games, all courtesy of 1-0 victories. A 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, having had Japhet Tanganga sent off, has taken a bit of gloss off the impression of the new coach. Much like his predecessor Jose Mourinho, he appears to favour a counter attacking style, but with Harry Kane playing deeper and Son Heung-min a fitness doubt, and Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura absent, the concern could be where will the goals come from?

In defence the availability again of Davinson Sanchez and Cristian Romero, following their travel quarantine, is a bonus. Without the suspended Tanganga, and Emerson Royal only new to the league, the pressure will be on the back four, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's role patrolling the area in font of them mightily important. Tanguy Ndombele and Oliver Skipp will be on hand to assist and to ensure that Chelsea don't have the time and space to pick out defence splitting passes.

Thomas Tuchel's honeymoon period in English football, for the time being, shows no sign of ending. With 20 clean sheets from his opening 30 games, and the introduction of a goal scoring centre forward, the signs are good for this season.. Last weekend's 3-0 success at home to Aston Villa flattered them somewhat though as the away side created numerous chances, but were unable to beat goal keeper Edouard Mendy, with centre half Antonio Rudiger also impressing.

The option of playing three at the back has allowed wing backs Reece James and Marcos Alonso to get forward, with both getting on the scoresheet already this season. Jorginho and Mason Mount act as the main playmakers, with Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku (three goals in three games) their main targets. Last season the chances were being created but Lukaku's ability has added another dimension to the current holders of the UEFA Champions league. The run of league results; 3-0, 2-0, 1-1 (with 10 men at Liverpool) and 3-0 shows that they mean business and there is quality on the bench.

Whilst the hosts have the ability to frustrate visitors and score on the break, when facing one of the big boys at home, (Man City (H) 1-0) Chelsea have come out on top 1-0 and 2-0 in the last two encounters. With their confidence up a similar scoreline is highly probable.

Suggested bet : Chelsea to Nil (13/8)

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