A Tottenham vs Chelsea derby is always a heated affair, however, the match certainly has extra significance for both sides who are looking to break back into the top four.
Ahead of the match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we caught up with Lewis Adams from talkchelsea.net to get his thoughts.
What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Our season has been a rollercoaster to say the least. Coming off the back of beating Leeds 3-1 in December, there was (premature) title talk after a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions – we looked like we could beat anyone. Flash-forward just over a month from the Leeds result and life in west London was a completely different place. We had taken just seven points from an available 24 and Frank Lampard was gone. Any fan would be forgiven for thinking the past month had been a daydream.
It was always going to be an unpredictable campaign, trying to bed in a large import of new players and manage sky-high expectations from fans and the board alike, but we undoubtedly should be in a better position than where we reside now. The Blues face a real battle to get into the top four. Thursday’s match against a fellow challenger could be season-defining in both sides’ efforts to achieve a fabled Champions League spot.
Were Chelsea right to sack Frank Lampard and is Thomas Tuchel the right man for the job?
In my opinion, it was the wrong choice. Am I speaking from the heart? Probably, yes. As last season’s successful campaign concluded it felt like Chelsea had turned a corner. We’d finished in the top four and reached the FA Cup final against the odds, all while relying largely on players from our academy who had next to no top-flight experience. It looked like Roman Abramovich was prepared to show some uncharacteristic patience and invest in a long-term project. However, his ruthless side reared its head again this season following a dismal run of form. I think the majority of fans are devastated the long-term dream of seeing Lampard lift a trophy with the club has been shattered, but I understand this is the Abramovich way, albeit ruthless. To be brief, I don’t think he was right to pull the trigger, but I understand why he did it. His merciless methods have always brought success to the club and as a fan, I will forever be grateful for this.
Given current availability, I think Tuchel was the best man available. I’ve been really impressed with how he talks and he seems so engaged. We have such a large squad, the man described as a ‘tactical Chameleon’ seems perfect for chopping and changing line-ups and formations to utilise the full strength of our deep squad depth. He also has crucial experience of managing big personalities which will be key in getting everyone to buy into his vision.
What’s your take on your former manager Jose Mourinho’s time at Tottenham?
When he was first announced I was shocked – who wasn’t? I love the man, no matter where he goes I will standby that opinion. I can’t help but feel his image of disdain towards Chelsea is all just false bravado too. That being said he is Spurs manager now and I hope he loses every game!
I think he is the perfect man for short-term success at Tottenham and he’s shown this by taking the team to the League Cup final. If you win this then arguably you could say it’s been a successful appointment so far, meeting the Spurs fans’ cravings of a trophy – it’s been over 12 years just in case you’d forgotten. However, in the last few weeks results have soured and Jose hasn’t got them playing the electric football you were playing at the start of the season. Without Harry Kane things will get worse before they get better, but will this be good enough for your top four push? He’s been ok but there’s not been a noticeable improvement on Pochettino. I think Mourinho faces one of the toughest challenges in his managerial career yet in turning Spurs back into genuine contenders.
Who has your dangerman this season been? Which player do we need to be wary of?
Whoever gets on the end of our corners! In all honesty, we haven’t really had an out and out dangerman with our strikers lacking consistency. Our biggest threat comes from set pieces at the moment, a chink in Spurs’ armour which we could really take advantage of.
I think the key to beating Chelsea is nullifying Mason Mount. Often underappreciated by other clubs’ fans, his industrialism in the middle of the park drives us on in attack and sets the press when in transition. I think Jose will know this too, as an unashamed lover of a hard-working midfielder, he will understand the threat Mount poses.
On a side note, you should be wary of Callum Hudson-Odoi running from deep at your full-back and, if he starts, I don’t need to emphasise the danger Marcos Alonso threatens when deployed at wing-back – particularly to Spurs fans.
And who do I fear from Spurs?
I fear Heung-Min Son and I feel all teams in the league do too. Rightly so. His finishing inside and outside the box is ridiculous and he’s clinical when given the opportunity. It remains to be seen how he will fare without Kane, whose movement dropping in deep is so key in how Spurs play, releasing the South-Korean in behind defences before the killer pass is made. If we play a back three then he will get space in behind on the counter and I think this is what Jose will plan to do, he’s the master of the counter-attack.
I think Tanguy Ndombele is a real dark horse too. Mourinho’s man-management of him seems to have worked superbly and we are beginning to see just how talented the Frenchman really is. His technical ability in possession and slaloming runs with the ball are exquisite, I think he’s really exciting to watch. He needs to step up to fill Kane’s creative boots if Spurs are to give Chelsea a headache on Thursday and has the potential to do real damage to us.
Why hasn’t it happened for Werner and Havertz?
Their performances have left a lot of Chelsea fans scratching their heads.
Werner started off so encouragingly, winning penalties for fun and scoring goals too before his form fell off a cliff. It seems to be a confidence issue as he misses chance after chance right now. The positive aspect is he still gets these chances. He’s always in the right position and making runs, causing problems for defenders and I think this has to be admired – he hasn’t given up. For this reason, I think he will come good and Thomas Tuchel will be using his vast tactical knowledge to conjure up a remedy which will bring our talisman back to his lethal best, finding the form that made Abramovich bring him to Stamford Bridge.
As for Kai Havertz, he is clearly settling in still. His talent is phenomenal, and people forget he is still young and developing due to how mature his performances were for Bayer Leverkusen and the astronomical fee he arrived in west London with. He has made a massive move early in his career during a global pandemic, of which he contracted the virus and suffered terribly as a result. Patience is a virtue here. Havertz works hard and has pace and skill in abundance. When he finds his feet he will be a real asset to the Blues going forward.
Is this the best time to play Spurs especially now Harry Kane is injured?
There’s never been a good time to play Spurs, such is the ferocity in this derby which has heightened so much in recent years. It’s an old cliché but form really does go out the window when the sides meet, especially with the added edge of ex-Chelsea boss Mourinho being in charge.
With Kane injured, other players will be desperate to step up and make a name for themselves in a massive game. Of course, it’s no secret I’m delighted your best player won’t be playing and naturally, it gives us an advantage such is his importance to the Spurs side. However, your players will be hungry to put this bad run of form to bed and getting a result against Chelsea could be the catalyst they need to begin knocking on the door of the Champions League spots again. There are not many things more dangerous and unpredictable than a wounded animal. Spurs will be looking to take their anger out on Chelsea and are still very dangerous – make no mistake.
Where do you think both sides will finish in the league?
I think the Manchester sides and Liverpool are nailed on for the top three spots. Unless some of the other sides flirting with fourth remain consistent to the end, then it is down to Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham to claim the remaining position. I think the wheels are starting to come off a little at Spurs, particularly now with Kane’s injury coming at the worst possible time as you’ve hit a sticky patch of results. This could hurt your chances badly in the coming weeks and I think a resurgent Chelsea under their new boss could take advantage of this. I also see Leicester fading away and fancy Spurs to just about edge them as a result. Who knows though, this has been one of the most unpredictable seasons in history for results. For me, Chelsea will grab the fourth Champions League spot and Spurs will have to settle for fifth – but will that be enough to keep Harry Kane moving forward?
I’m going 2-0 Chelsea. I can’t imagine Mourinho setting you up to go and play on the front foot, it just isn’t what he does. Therefore, I think we will take all three points as Spurs will struggle to get out and transition into attack without Kane dropping deep to release Son beyond. For that reason, we will be offered a lot of chances and a shaky Spurs defence will struggle to remain watertight for 90 minutes. If you do come and attack us then it really could be anyone’s match to win.
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