Tottenham Hotspur’s 2017/18 campaign is off and running after bagging three points last week against Newcastle United. Spurs now return to London and their temporary home of Wembley Stadium to host champions Chelsea. The Blues did not get their season off on the right food, suffering a 3-2 defeat at home against Burnley and losing two men to suspension in the process. Joining us for Know Your Opponent this week is David from our sister site We Ain’t Got No History. We’ll talk about that dreadful start for Chelsea, if there’s an infirmary instead of a dressing room, and what the expected lineup is for Sunday.
CFC: So....that wasn't the start you were hoping for against Burnley, I'm sure. Besides the red cards, what the heck happened?
WAGNH: In Conte's words, we "lost composure" and that's a fairly succinct way of describing the shambles of the first 45 minutes. The only person who handled Cahill's red well was Cahill himself, the rest descended into disarray, disorganization, and distemper. We couldn't mark anybody, we couldn't control the midfield, and the attackers disappeared. Burnley may have gotten lucky with a couple of their goals (once-in-a-lifetime shot from Stephen Ward and Vokes scuffing the first one in), but Chelsea were all over the shop and Burnley smelled the fear that lingers over this season already.
Assuming David Luiz doesn’t step on a rake between now and Sunday, will he start in midfield against Spurs?
Twenty-four hours ago, I would've said yes. Now, I'm not so sure, with the news of Bakayoko making a swift recovery and making himself available for this game. Whether he plays is still unclear — we might be setting up the new signing for failure by shoving him out there too soon — but we're in a bit of a crisis, so it might have to happen.
Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill are suspended. Almost your entire midfield is in the infirmary. Eden Hazard is out until after the international break. Time to hit the panic button or just bad setbacks to fight through?
That panic button is doing its warm-up exercises and stretching as we speak.
What’s the current state of Chelsea fandom? Is there confidence that they can repeat as champions?
Morata is one hell of a consolation prize after Chelsea lost out on the Lukaku sweepstakes, but I can't help but feel that there's disappointment in that. What's the feeling about missing out on the Belgian?
Thanks to Morata (and his excellent debut last weekend as he sparked the near-comeback in the final 30 minutes), Lukaku is mostly seen as another shining example of the Chelsea Board's failures in the transfer market. But it's also a sign of Chelsea going with Conte's preference as the head coach has been keen on Morata for quite some time. Either way, it's a bit unusual, given how different the two players are, that if a couple chips fall differently, we end up with Lukaku and United end up with Morata instead. Really does make you wonder if there is a master plan behind the scenes, or we just playing whack-a-mole.
There's still a couple of weeks to go in the window. Are there any other targets that Chelsea are targeting?
Realistically, the two names linked most commonly are Alex Oxlade-Chamblerlain and Danny Drinkwater, but as long as we don't end up with two Papy Djilobodjis on transfer deadline day, we just might be alright for the season.
How much do you hate the Matic to United transfer?
Imagine selling Danny Rose to Chelsea, and then take about half of that, multiply it by the Mourinho smug factor of infinity and that's how much.
How do Chelsea line up on Sunday?
Presumably we'll keep the 3-4-3 shape and if Bakayoko's deemed fit, he gives us a straightforward defence and midfield selection, with a youngster coming in to play opposite Willian and maybe Morata starting if he's ready. If Bakayoko is not fit, all bets are off.
(3-4-3): Courtois | Rüdiger, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Kanté, Bakayoko, Moses | Boga, Morata, Willian
If we can keep all eleven on the pitch, maybe a hard-fought 1-1. That might be too hopeful on several counts, I'm afraid...