If there was ever a time for things to go south, this would surely be it, right? A feisty derby against an underperforming side, led by a beloved-turned-traitorous manager to provide the season’s first loss, knocking the club off the top of the table — no matter how long someone has been supporting Tottenham Hotspur, this scenario feels far too realistic.
But maybe this squad is just different. Ange Postecoglou has come to North London and changed the culture, changed the roster, and changed the results, and perhaps the Spurs of (recent) old are gone for good. This is a legitimately good team, and while it may eventually come up short, the arrow is still trending up as of now.
Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino’s start at Chelsea has not been as successful, having taken just 12 points through the first 10 matches. The analytics might suggest some positive regression is coming, but the Blues do not deserve the benefit of the doubt after a pretty poor past 16 months.
The Pochettino narrative headlines a fixture that always draws plenty of attention, even without this added drama. Supporters can have confidence in Postecoglou keeping the squad’s focus on the match at hand, though, and maintaining steady composure as has been the case thus far. This is a heated derby, but Spurs cannot let the drama make an impact.
Tottenham Hotspur (2nd, 26pts) vs. Chelsea (t-13th, 12 pts)
Date: Monday, November 6
Time: 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
TV: Peacock Premium (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
Chelsea supporters would argue that the start to the season is not as bad as it looks, with xGD considering this a top-five side. However, losses to West Ham, Forest, Villa, and Brentford saw the Blues score one total goal, and draws against Liverpool and Arsenal displayed some flaws as well, and at some point the metrics are just metrics.
Too often has Chelsea dominated possession but let sloppiness on both ends of the pitch decide the match. Even if the visitors do control the middle of the pitch, it is going to take a significant effort to actually break down the Spurs defense in the box. Meanwhile, Tottenham looks much more likely to be clinical on the other end when given the opportunity, and that could be the difference on Monday.
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The biggest cheers last Friday against Palace were for the season debut of Rodrigo Bentancur after missing months due to injury. Bentancur was arguably the team’s best player last season, and the difference in results between when he was active (72-point pace) compared to injured (49-point pace) was shocking.
Postecoglou does not need to rush him back, but it is exciting to think about how he might further elevate this high-performing squad. He will certainly be needed during the Africa Cup of Nations, but for now, he is able to ease his way back. Still, it would be great to see him for at least part of Monday’s derby, as a fit Bentancur raises this team’s ceiling even higher.