The clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea will serve as the headline fixture as the English Premier League heads into its fifth round of action this weekend.
The match at Tottenham Stadium kicks off at 5:30pm on Sunday.
Chelsea are level with three other teams (Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton) at the summit of the table at this early stage of the season, and are set for another stern examination, which comes soon after a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the end of August.
The Blues, who famously powered to Champions League success last season, started their title defence with a rather lacklustre performance against St Petersburg this past week, but another goal to Romelu Lukaku ensured they did come away with a 1-0 victory.
The Belgian striker now has four goals in as many games since returning to the club for a club record £97 million, and manager Thomas Tuchel believes he remains an integral addition to the squad.
“He was the type of guy we were missing [last season],” said Tuchel. “It is super hard and super important. You don’t find many strikers of that quality. The guys who are there to score regularly for their teams are so important because one goal changes the whole momentum of the match.”
However, with Chelsea’s pre-season preparation having been disrupted by the fact that many star players were involved at Euro 2020 and the Copa America, this Sunday’s clash against Spurs offers a real opportunity to kick their Premier League season into an extra gear.
A remarkable run of 23 clean sheets in 36 games under Tuchel has been at the heart of Chelsea’s success since he took charge in January, but they will now come up against a Spurs side that will be smarting after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend.
Tottenham had started a league campaign with three wins and three clean sheets for the first time in their history, but a red card to Japhet Tanganga, the injury absence of Son Heung-min and another injury blow to Eric Dier derailed their most recent performance.
It’s turned very quickly into an injury crisis for Tottenham, with neither Steven Bergwijn nor Lucas Moura able to finish their 2-2 draw against Stade Rennais in the Europa Conference League, while Ryan Sessegnon is also on the injury list.
“It’s been terrible [last few weeks]. I must be honest. Let’s not hide behind nothing. After the Watford game, everything that has happened has not been very good for us,” Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo commented.
“But this is football and we know it’s a moment we have to overcome. We tried to show the players solutions, thinking about the game on Sunday. But it’s about overcoming obstacles. That will make us stronger for the future, for sure.
“[We] have to match these situations and try to improve on our quality. But we are on the way. We want to build and become stronger.”
Spurs will also be without young defender Japhet Tanganga, who is suspended after his recent sending off, which all adds credence to the claim that Chelsea are firm favourites, particularly considering they have also not lost to Tottenham in the Premier League since a 3-1 defeat at Wembley Stadium in November 2018.