Chelsea v Spurs on Sunday sees the Premier League’s best attack take on its top defence. We look at the stats ahead of another massive game in the title race.
Chelsea v Tottenham
Sunday November 29
Kick-off 1630 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
“It’s lucky for Spurs when the year ends in one,” sang Chaz and Dave back in the day (younger readers, get them up on YouTube, you won’t regret it).
The joke goes “but the year no longer starts with a one”, but fans of the 1961 Double winners and 1981 and 1991 FA Cup victors may just be getting a little giddy after their side hit top spot in the Premier League last weekend, thanks to a highly-impressive 2-0 win over Manchester City.
Another test of their top-table credentials comes just a week on from that success with a trip across London to fellow title contenders Chelsea.
The Blues sit just two places and two points behind Tottenham and the pair arrive boasting the two longest unbeaten runs in the league – Spurs haven’t lost in eight (Everton having beaten them on the opening day) and Chelsea in seven. Tottenham have won their last four, Chelsea their last three (six in all competitions).
As was the case last week at Spurs, this is a big game with big implications.
Chelsea have been installed as favourites, but a closer look at their record shows they’ve failed to beat any side currently in the top half of the Premier League table.
Admittedly, they’ve only played three games against such opponents, losing to Liverpool and drawing with both Manchester United and Southampton, but it’s a statistic which makes you think that jury should still be out on Frank Lampard’s side.
Yes, they’ve tightened up at the back since the early weeks of the season. Much of that has been attributed to new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, but maybe the level of opposition has also had a lot to do with it.
In contrast, Spurs have already taken seven points from a possible 12 against top-10 opposition, putting five past Southampton at St Mary’s and netting six at Man Utd.
Another win here would make it five in a row on the road and the last time they opened a campaign with five straight away wins was that Double-winning season of 1960/61.
Cue Chaz and Dave again.
The Master v The Apprentice
The game pits Jose Mourinho against his former player Frank Lampard, a man who played a huge role in Chelsea’s success when the Portuguese was in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Perhaps surprisingly, Lampard leads their managerial head-to-head having guided Chelsea to a double over Spurs last season, including a 2-1 victory in this particular fixture.
It promises to be another fascinating tactical battle.
Mourinho’s plan to thwart and then punish Manchester City last weekend worked a treat, Spurs defending with gusto, not to mention plenty of quality, before being deadly when they got the opportunity to break. Both of their goals came from such situations.
Lampard’s tactics were often criticised in the early weeks of the season as Chelsea struggled to find the right balance between attack and defence, but things have undoubtedly improved and it will be interesting to see how he sets his team up here, fully aware of Spurs’ strengths.
Attack or defence to hold sway?
Chelsea boast the best attack in the league having netted 22 times in their first nine games, but Spurs are only one shy of that tally. Interestingly, 13 of their 21 goals have come away from home.
A couple of other goal figures stand out – those regarding when goals have been scored.
Nine of Spurs’ 21 have come in the first 30 minutes of games, while 11 of Chelsea’s 22 have come in the last half hour of matches. A home fightback anyone?
These sides also have two of the best defences with Spurs having conceded the fewest goals (9) and Chelsea only 10, having managed to keep a league-high four clean sheets since Mendy’s arrival.
In terms of who has been scoring the goals this season, Chelsea’s have been shared around with Timo Werner their top Premier League scorer with four.
It’s been different at Spurs where Heung-min Son and Harry Kane have bagged 16 of their 21 goals.
Son has nine, putting him second in the race for the Golden Boot – only Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin has more.
9 – Harry Kane has provided nine assists in his nine Premier League games this season, more than any other player in the division. Kane had provided just eight assists in his previous three league campaigns combined (94 games). Evolution. pic.twitter.com/WGRGA0bKA9
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 21, 2020
Kane’s tally of seven is far from shabby and he’s got a track record of scoring against Chelsea – six in his 13 starts may not be a spectacular return, but it’s still decent. Kane also leads the league for assists with nine – the next best is five – and shots taken (38 in nine matches).
There’s another statistic where Kane features heavily – discipline.
The England captain has been carded five times in his 10 league starts against Chelsea. That’s the most cards he’s picked up against a single opponent.
As a ‘proper Spurs lad’, born and raised in North London, the rivalry of these two clubs will doubtless be engrained in him and could well help explain that figure.
However, it’s perhaps a little surprising that only one of the clubs’ last eight meetings has seen more than four cards.
Whether that changes here remains to be seen. Both teams arrive in the top five of the fair-play table – Chelsea have only had eight cards in their nine matches so far.
But with plenty at stake, there’s clearly the potential for that to be thrown out of the window.
Referee Paul Tierney may help on that front. He has been one of the stricter officials so far this season, averaging 3.6 yellow cards per game, well above the season average of 3.0. That figure is well down on last season (3.37) which can largely be attributed to the lack of fans.
Other contenders for a card include Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who is joint third in the tackles list with 29, and joint sixth in terms of fouls committed.
N’Golo Kante effectively Hojbjerg’s opposite number in the Chelsea side – he’s seventh for tackles made and in the top 20 in the fouls list.
Jorginho has been carded three times in six starts against Tottenham – only against Manchester City has he collected more since arriving in England – while Antonio Rudiger also has three cards in his last six league games v Spurs.
It was at Spurs last season that he made allegations of racist abuse from a fan. Could there be fallout from that? Given the German is most likely to be on the bench, probably not.
Chelsea v Spurs head-to-head: Troubled Bridge water
While Spurs’ form would suggest they have a good chance here, perhaps the one big block for them is a mental one.
They have a miserable record at Stamford Bridge, winning on just one of their last 34 visits and losing 22 of those matches.
At least that sole win – their first since Gary Lineker scored in a 2-1 success a few months prior to the 1990 World Cup – was fairly recent (2018).
The goals stats in recent meetings don’t show a hugely significant trend, however.
Since the start of the 2015/16 season, there have been over 2.5 goals in eight of the sides’ 14 games. Both teams have scored in nine of the 14.
Most recently, under 2.5 has landed in four of the last six. There have not been more than three goals in any of those six games.
Odds correct at the time of publication. 18+ Please Gamble Responsibly. Visit www.begambleaware.org