Thomas Tuchel is just a week into his tenure at Chelsea and he’s already preparing for one of the job’s biggest challenges. The Blues travel to Tottenham on Thursday as they will look to extend their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions. These two sides drew in their previous meeting, with Spurs also beating their rivals in the Carabao Cup on penalties early in the season. Chelsea has gotten all of the attention for its harsh dip in form over the last few months, but Jose Mourinho’s side hasn’t been superb either. The Blues will be facing a slumping Spurs squad, presumably without its best player in Harry Kane.
Tuchel has had little time to instill his ideas into the team, but he took the job knowing there would be hardships. This London Derby represents the first of many as two of the country’s most hated rivals go head-to-head in a contest with massive top four implications. Further, this clash of the titans will set the tone for the upcoming weeks, where the Blues take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League knockout stages. One match at a time though.
Here are three things to look for in Chelsea’s trip to Tottenham:
1. Tactical tug of war
Instead of the “Master vs. Apprentice” headline that has captivated audiences in recent years, this game takes on a whole other theme. Frank Lampard has now departed Chelsea and the Blues have replaced him with the aforementioned Tuchel. The German gaffer has quite the reputation across Europe for being one of the brightest tactical minds on the continent. His jobs at Mainz, Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain have gone a long way in justifying this reputation, but it’s even more evident to Blues fans after watching him in the dugout over the last two games.
In the opposing dugout, however, is one of the undisputed best managers in the history of modern game. As Chelsea fans know all too well, Mourinho is a master of methodical play. He has no set style—like Tuchel—and will win by whatever means possible. This managerial clash is going to be one of the most intriguing tactical tug of wars this season. Perhaps the best part of the build-up to this fight is the unpredictability that lies ahead. Both Tuchel and Mourinho are extremely adaptable to the circumstances and at the moment, both squads are being forced to overcome adversity to get where they need to be at the end of the season.
This isn’t just any old Tottenham versus Chelsea match; this is a coming together of two of the most tactically adept and unpredictable coaches in Europe. The headlines are written and the stage is set, the only thing we can do now is wait.