One matchweek into the season and Tottenham Hotspur sits atop the Premier League thanks to a +3 goal differential. Though Southampton did jump out to the early lead, there was no uncertainty as to who the better side was during the opening weekend contest, and a 4-1 score line is completely fair.
The same could be said about Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Everton, albeit for different reasons. The visitors did not score from open play, and while maybe three points was the only outcome, it was not the most inspiring performance from a side that enters the season with plenty of question marks.
All of that does go out the window, however, as the rivals clash once again on Sunday. Chelsea has had the upper hand as of late, which Spurs not winning in the league in nearly four years and not at Stamford Bridge since the 2017/18 campaign. If there ever was a time to break these streaks it could very well be this weekend.
Chelsea (t-1st, 3pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-1st, 3pts)
Date: Sunday, August 14
Time: 11:30 am ET, 4:30 pm UK
Location: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: USA Network (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
Last season brought nothing but pain, as Chelsea went 4-0-0 against Tottenham including three times in the month of January alone. The aggregate score across those fixtures was 0-8, which...yikes. There were some injuries and fixture congestion that certainly did not help, but no excuses can explain away such lopsided numbers.
It did seem like Antonio Conte was a little in his own head against his former club, but he really has got his tactics into place now, with a strong end to last season and a clear continuation of that against Southampton. Much has been said about how Spurs thrived without Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son playing well, and that alone is an indication of how well this squad is structured.
- Sep 2021: 0-3 loss, home
- Jan 2022: 0-3 loss (agg), League Cup
- Jan 2022: 2-0 loss, away
The two standouts from the opening weekend were Dejan Kulusevski and Ryan Sessegnon, who both figure to be important players on Sunday. Kulusevski is a bona fide difference maker at this point, and if his partners up top play more like themselves, it is hard to see anyone being able to stop this combination. He did not face Chelsea with Spurs last season, but do not be surprised to see some goal involvements from him this weekend.
Meanwhile, Sessegnon looks like he could give Conte something to think about at the wingback position. Ivan Perisic is going to play, but Sessegnon is playing like someone who needs to be on the pitch. He was very active down the wing and on the attack, and if he helps produce another good showing on the defensive end as well, he will keep finding his name on the team sheet.
This match just feels important for so many reasons. As great as last season was, all of the Chelsea fixtures look like a huge blemish, and it was clearly frustrating for Conte to not get the monkey off his back. With many picking Spurs to finish third this season, a win — or at least a respectable performance in a draw — would go a long way to showing this team is on the upswing.