Tottenham Hotspur travel to Stamford Bridge for an early Week 2 clash against Chelsea that might eventually prove pivotal to both teams’ top four hopes. The good news is that Tottenham are set to welcome Richarlison to the team for what one expects will be his Spurs debut. However, Spurs will be without new signing Clement Lenglet with a minor muscle injury, and Oliver Skipp who continues to recover from a foot injury sustained in training.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte said that Lenglet’s injury is minor, but that the coaching staff did not want to risk him when they didn’t feel as though they had to.
“It’s a little problem of fatigue and he’s a bit tired in his adductor. Nothing serious, only a precaution but it’s not good to take a stupid risk for one game. He’s having training sessions apart but I think it’s good for him to recover well and to have a good training session before he comes back with us.”
That likely means if Conte opts to or is forced to make a central defense substitution on Sunday, it’ll be Davinson Sanchez to come in. Skipp, meanwhile, is expected to be out of action for another couple of weeks after having his foot stepped on during a Spurs training session before the start of the season.
Richarlison is back after a one-match suspension levied on him by the Football Association dating back to the end of last season when he was still at Everton. It seems unlikely that he would be in Conte’s starting lineup considering Dejan Kulusevski’s man of the match performance against Southampton last Saturday, but you can very easily see him coming on as an impact substitute midway through the second half to run against tired Chelsea legs.
The weather is expected to be steamy, especially for London, on Sunday, with temperatures reaching north of 90ºF (32ºC) by kick-off. When asked, Conte seemed to downplay the heat as a potential factor for the match, saying that it’s going to impact both teams equally.
“The weather? The weather is the same for them and for us. I don’t know if the first half the weather or temperature is less for them and higher for us. It is like the pitch. The pitch is always the same, the weather is always the same for us and for them.
The weather is this and we arrive in training sessions with this temperature. I understand this is unusual for London, for me no? Because in Italy in this period we have 40 or 42 degrees, especially where I was born in Lecce. We sometimes touch 45 and we are used to this temperature but I understand for London it is unusual. The game will be good because both teams want to play and want to win.”
Finally, Conte was asked about Tottenham’s dismal record at Stamford Bridge, a place where Spurs have won only one league match in the past 30 years.
“We’re talking about 30 years ago. We know, we know. The truth is this. The truth is this and the story is this, not to try. When I arrived in Tottenham, I said ‘we want to try to write a good story for this club’. I know very well that it’ll be more difficult than the other clubs for many reasons, but I think we’ve started to go in the right path.
“For sure on Sunday it will be a difficult game but we want to play this game. I want to play this game and my players want to play this game because it will be important this game to make the right evaluation of our improvement. I think this game will be very important for us and then if we win, lose or draw, we have to be good to make the right evaluation about the game, because you can win a game and be lucky and lose a game but be unlucky.
“For me it will be very important to understand and make the right evaluation after the game, the performance, the way we played and to feel our improvement for the future.”
Tottenham and Chelsea kick off on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET (4:30 p.m. BST). The match will be televised on USA Network in the United States, and Sky Sports in the UK.