Fifty-three. That’s the number of points Tottenham picked up at home last year. Dropping four only due to home draws against Leicester and Liveprool, Spurs now forfeit that advantage. We all like our homes. The Premier League runners-up liked theirs a bit more – and now they’re without it. Their house warming guests are Chelsea in a feisty London derby.
These sides met in last year’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley – with Antonio Conte’s men running out 4-2 winners. However, the 2017-18 season paints a very different picture for them. What was once an Edouard Manet masterpiece is now a pound shop colouring book.
Chelsea opened their Premier League campaign with an embarrassing three-two defeat at home to Burnley. This is the same Burnley side that won just once outside of Turf Moor in the league last year.
It should be near impossible to be happy in a place like Burnley, but fair play to Sean Dyche – a miracle worker.
Tottenham looked their efficient selves in Newcastle despite not finding the breakthrough until Jonjo Shelvey remembered he simply must ruin everything he touches and saw red for a mindless stamp.
While this result isn’t going to decide who wins the league title, it will set a precedent. If Chelsea lose, it confirms a crisis regardless. It Spurs lose, it sets an uneasy tone in a ground that doesn’t hold immediate happy memories for them.
Harry Kane won’t score because he’s about as useful in August as a Christmas advert. Wanyama and Son could well return to Pochettino’s line-up – a squad that, despite no incomings, has depth. Conte has fewer options than his local Chinese buffet.
The only thing he must do is exactly what he had to do last week – start Alvaro Morata.
The Diego Costa saga is still dragging on. But we think it says a lot that Diego’s probably happier in his hometown of Lagarto. It’s little more than a village with 100,000 inhabitants without so much as a Pizza Express.
Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas are suspended, while Tiemoue Bakayoko is still injured. With that in mind, the Italian will likely emphasise the importance of defensive solidarity. For that reason, Under 2.5 Goals (10/11) looks a good bet.
Another shrewd punt that looks overpriced is the 0-0 HT correct score (2/1). Nervy beginnings in a new home and a Chelsea midfield tasked with stopping Ali from picking up pockets of space will ensure a potentially dull opening forty-five.
While we’ve established that this game will be as exciting as Wayne Rooney’s morning spruce-up, it may also give us a clue in the First Goalscorer market. If open play isn’t the likely source of a deadlock breaker, perhaps we look to set pieces.
Chelsea have already shown the world that they can’t defend crosses. Losing Gary Cahill doesn’t help this. Tottenham have some big aerial threats – and none of them are as dangerous as Toby Alderweireld (25/1). The six-foot-two Belgian can eat Chelsea alive from dead balls and can grab some much-desired Wembley redemption for Christian Eriksen and co.