Thomas Tuchel has used 16 different players as Chelsea head coach in his first two games. And that number is likely to keep rising when the Blues face Tottenham Hotspur tonight.
The German head coach is just over a week in his reign at Stamford Bridge and has barely had a chance to relax. There were two games, an official unveiling, a pre-game press conference, a transfer appointment and of course a lot of work on the training grounds in Cobham.
During all this, a smile could be seen on Tuchel’s face. And that only gets bigger if Chelsea beat Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
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It will be the first time that the new Chelsea head coach will face the most successful coach in the club’s history: Jose Mourinho. Although Tuchel tried to emphasize, this was a competition between two teams, not between two coaches.
“I firmly believe that it’s Tottenham against Chelsea and not me against Jose,” he said before the game.
“I am very happy to be playing against his team with a strong team. I am very happy to arrive with a squad with our quality, our mentality and the atmosphere we are in right now. That’s the most important.
“He (Mourinho) is one of the best managers in the world and he created a squad at Tottenham that is very, very competitive, very, very strong. That will be the challenge for us. “
Tuchel have lined up his side in a 3-4-3 form in the first two games and that is unlikely to change against Spurs. The staff in it will almost certainly do it.
In between, Edouard Mendy will almost certainly be standing. The Senegalese international played both games under the German coach and remains Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper.
After Tuchel played against Wolves and Burnley twice in a row without conceding a goal, he no longer has to switch his three backs. So expect Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rüdiger to stay on the side.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was Chelsea’s right-back under Tuchel and is likely to keep his place. His defensive acumen in the role, however, deserves greater scrutiny from Spurs.
On the opposite flank, expect Marcos Alonso to keep his place. Tuchel mentioned in the run-up to the game that the Spaniard in the left full-back is more of a natural than Ben Chilwell.
And Alonso has a habit of producing big moments against Spurs in the Premier League. He has registered three goals and one assist in eight top games for Chelsea against Tottenham.
In midfield, N’Golo Kante should return. The Frenchman missed four games in a row with a hamstring injury and was just an unused replacement against Burnley on Sunday. But his industry will be important in fending off counterattacks on Mourinho’s side.
Jorginho will probably be next to Edge. The Italian has started both of Tuchel’s responsible games and his ability to assist Chelsea in maintaining possession will be required to sustain attacks.
It is not easy to say which players occupy the first three positions. Hakim Ziyech, who had the weekend off, is a likely starter because he’s fresh. Mason Mount should stand next to him, with his energy without a ball and inventions that Tuchel values.
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The front man could turn out to be Olivier Giroud. Given Tottenham’s form – they have only won three of their last ten Premier League games – it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mourinho started his side on a low block and challenged Chelsea to break them.
When this scenario plays out, Giroud’s subtle use in and around the penalty area can allow the Blues to unlock Spurs’ backline.
Probable Chelesa team against Tottenham (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rüdiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Ziyech, Giroud, Berg