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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups
18/09/2021 14:07:54

Having posted contrasting results in their opening European encounters, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea prepare for battle in an eye-catching London derby in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon (4:30PM, 19 Sept).

The hosts played out a 2-2 draw with Rennes in the Europa Conference League in midweek, whereas Chelsea started their Champions League defence with a 1-0 success over Zenit St Petersburg.

We say: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Chelsea

Spurs' injury problems in attack are mounting, but the potential returns of Sanchez and Romero will at least ease their concerns on the defensive front before Tuchel's rampant forces pay a visit.

It is difficult to envisage Chelsea banking multiple goals in the capital if Santo has his first-choice backline available, but the visitors' own staunch rearguard action should shine through as they scrape a narrow win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Match preview

With a hefty amount of expected changes in tow, Spurs kicked off their Conference League group-stage campaign against French powerhouses Rennes on Thursday night, but they only had one point and two more injury problems to show for their efforts.

After Loic Bade's own goal gave Tottenham the lead, Rennes responded through Flavien Tait and new signing Gaetan Laborde, but Tottenham lynchpin Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg came off the bench to rescue a point for his side at the Roazhon Park.

It may have been all sunshine and rainbows for Nuno Espirito Santo during his three-game winning run in the Premier League - which saw Spurs briefly top the rankings - but a humbling 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend has seen them drop to seventh amid a challenging seven days.

However, both of Spurs' underwhelming results in that period have come on the road, with Santo's side scoring five goals and conceding none in their three home victories so far this term, and they have won 11 of their last 13 games on familiar territory in all competitions.

Not since the 2002-03 campaign have the North London side taken nine points from their opening three fixtures on home soil, but any chances of the injury-hit hosts ending that 19-year streak appear slim against a Chelsea side with a glint in their eyes.

It may not have been a comprehensive drubbing that some fans would have hoped for, but in the end, Chelsea's defence of their Champions League crown began with three points against Zenit St Petersburg, who were sunk by Romelu Lukaku's 69th-minute header.

The Belgian's prolific start to life back in blue continues after he had previously broken his Stamford Bridge duck against Aston Villa last weekend - where Mateo Kovacic also netted in a dominant 3-0 win - and Chelsea are now one of four sides sitting level on 10 points at the top of the division.

Thomas Tuchel only just managed to scrape a top-four finish with this Chelsea side last term amid their run to Porto, but the German's well-oiled machine firmly have the look of title contenders this time around, although clashes with Juventus and Manchester City before the end of the month will truly test their mettle.

The Blues travel across the capital having lost just one of their last 15 away matches in all competitions, while they have scored in each of their last six Premier League matches on the road - a streak that does not appear to be ending any time soon with Lukaku firing on all cylinders.

A Jorginho penalty propelled Chelsea to a 1-0 win in this fixture last term during the earliest days of Tuchel's reign, and the Blues are unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches versus Tottenham - winning four of them and conceding just one goal in that run.

Team News

Spurs have lost Japhet Tanganga to suspension and most likely Eric Dier to injury ahead of Sunday's game, so Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez may be thrust straight back into action following their returns to the UK on Saturday.

Giovani Lo Celso could also make the squad, while Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura both had to come off against Rennes with knocks to the ankle and are not expected to be ready for this game.

Son Heung-min is supposedly hopeful of being passed fit to face the European champions, while Bryan Gil should certainly be handed a start alongside Harry Kane amid Spurs' absentee crisis, especially if Ryan Sessegnon remains out.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are not expected to welcome Christian Pulisic back from an ankle injury just yet, but there is more optimism over N'Golo Kante's fitness, even though he was not passed fit for the win over Zenit.

Reece James - whose home was burgled during Tuesday's game - is back from a domestic ban and will hope to reprise his role on the right, but Ben Chilwell may be kept waiting as Marcos Alonso continues on the opposite side.

Kai Havertz should be reintroduced to the attack over Hakim Ziyech - a change that occurred after 63 minutes against Zenit - while new arrival Saul Niguez had a debut to forget against Villa and is set for another bench appearance.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:

Lloris; Emerson, Sanchez, Romero, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Skipp; Gil, Alli, Son; Kane

Chelsea possible starting lineup:

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku

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