Chelsea hosts Tottenham in this season’s second London Derby between the two, but who should the Blues start given the struggle last time out?
Chelsea welcomes Tottenham Hotspur to the more interesting Battle of the Bridge. The Blues sit two points behind their north London rivals, who are currently top of the league. Jose Mourinho has been beaten by his former student three times already, but he did recently knock Frank Lampard’s Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup.
Both teams are in top form and both managers would want to deploy their best players. The winner of this fixture could be at the top of the league by the end of the game week. Here’s who Lampard trusts to take on the league leaders:
Edouard Mendy (No. 16) Goalkeeper, Senegal
Mendy has been phenomenal for Chelsea since he arrived at Stamford Bridge. He has been trusted with the gloves whenever available and rightly so. Mendy would be going up against a Spurs attack that has found ways past the best defenses and he would have to be at the top of his game for Chelsea to get anything out of this game. Mendy can be trusted to give his best though, especially considering he was an Emerson mistake from keeping a clean sheet against Tottenham last time out.
Reece James (No. 24) Right back, England
James has shown that he deserves to be ahead of club captain, Cesar Azpilicueta, in the right back position. James has improved defensively and is still as effective offensively. The Englishman’s stubbornness will be useful in containing the threat of Son Heung-min or Steven Bergwijn. He will need to be focused throughout the game, but if anyone can trouble Spurs’ left flank, it’s James.
Kurt Zouma (No. 15) Centerback, France
Spurs have a physical and tall team. Zouma’s presence will at least help neutralize the threat these attributes would pose, if not give the Blues an advantage. Zouma’s aerial prowess is not the only the only strength he offers though. His technical ability is often overlooked. Zouma has shown that he’s not only capable of defending well, but he’s also capable of keeping clean sheets. Zouma and the other Chelsea centerbacks came under scrutiny last season after the Blues ended the year allowing 54 league goals. Zouma, with the help of Mendy, has shown that he can perform at the highest level and should be the first centerback on the team sheet.
Thiago Silva (No. 6) Centerback, Brazil
Silva has shown that he can still perform at the highest level, even at the age of 36. Many doubted Silva would be able to handle the intensity of the Premier League. There is no doubt about that now. This will be a big test for the Brazilian and the Chelsea defense as a whole. Silva’s football intelligence will be key against a very intelligent Spurs attack.
Ben Chilwell (No. 21) Left back, England
There’s no question as to who starts at left back; Lampard needs his strongest team on the pitch. Chilwell is the best left back at the club, period. He ranks second for key passes per game amongst all Blues players. Chelsea will need some creativity from the wings against a team like Spurs that is going to be compact defensively. Chilwell and Sergio Reguilon will be under the spotlight for obvious reasons, Chilwell would be aware of that.
N’Golo Kante (No. 7) Defensive midfielder, France
Chelsea has the best defensive midfielder in the league—and possibly the world—in Kante. He leads the team in interceptions, as well as tackles, and that’s not a coincidence. The midfield will be very important in this game seeing as Spurs have a balanced midfield as well. It’s important that Lampard also gets his middle of the park correct. Kante will be perfect for screening the back four. He’s Chelsea’s best midfielder and it’s not surprising that he starts almost all the time when he’s fit. He’s already won two Premier League titles, he’s due a third.
Mason Mount (No. 19) Central midfielder, England
A lot has been said about Mount recently, but he just shuts the noise out and keeps doing everything his manager likes. His assist against Rennes in the Champions League midweek epitomizes what Mount has been for the Blues: a workaholic midfielder who contributes as much to attacking. Mount isn’t just “pressing and vibes”, he leads the blues in key passes too. He ranks second in tackles per game for central midfielders at the club and third overall for Chelsea players.
Hakim Ziyech (No. 22) Right winger, Morocco
Ziyech is going to be the go-to guy for making things happen. This is not a certainty, but if the game goes the way the Chelsea players expect it to, Spurs will be very difficult to break down. As such, something magical may be needed to decide the game. The Moroccan Magician has created four big chances in the league so far, on par with Kevin De Bruyne, but in two less games. Ziyech’s creativity isn’t just hot air, it’s the real deal. If anyone can unlock a stubborn Spurs team, it’s Ziyech.
Timo Werner (No. 11) Striker, Germany
Tammy Abraham’s finishing was never in question, it was his link-up play and contribution in other facets of the game that needed work. Abraham has improved these parts of his game greatly, so his selection would be justified. Werner is Chelsea’s best finisher though, and probably the fastest in the team. Werner’s ability to switch places with Pulisic and vice versa could prove to be interesting. For all the chances Werner has missed, he has also scored a fair bit.
Christian Pulisic (No. 10) Left winger, United States
Pulisic has been out with injury for quite some time, but when he’s on the pitch, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind the extent of the American’s talent. Pulisic’s directness and superb trickery will add another dimension to Chelsea’s attack. The Blues have to figure out a way to keep Pulisic fit, if not, that could be become a very serious problem indeed.