3. Jose Mourinho vs. Thomas Tuchel
There seems to be anywhere between two and four ex-Chelsea managers in the Premier League at all times. Right now, that figure is at the lower end, but the figures in question more than make up for their missing comrades. Tuchel will face both of them in the next two months, and it’s the granddaddy of them all up first in Jose Mourinho.
As two stringent methodists with contrasting styles, this promises to be a fascinating tactical battle, which, it must be said, doesn’t always produce a fascinating football match. Tuchel will be seeking to set the tempo with the ball, and Mourinho will be hoping to upset that with percussive counter-attacking intrusions.
At least, that’s what their traditional molds tell us.
While it’s safe to say that Mourinho seems fairly cemented at this stage, there remains the possibility for Tuchel to surprise a few with a less pass-heavy approach than his first two outings. That’s because a Raul Jimenez-less Wolves and a Sean Dyche-led Burnley dictated those hefty possession shares just as much as the manager did. The same goes for squad absences, and Kante’s potential inclusion could coincide with a shift in attitudes.
Breaking up the somewhat stodgy slide rule ways of the Jorginho-Kovacic axis could allow for more frequent probing up the field, with either Mason Mount or Kai Havertz or both afforded far more freedom in their marauding, lending in turn to a potentially lethal counter-attack. Should Tuchel fight fire with fire in that respect, we really could be in for an intriguing battle, and should he win, it won’t be the only attitudinal shift we see this week.
What are some of the key clashes you’ll be watching? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!