Chelsea will not lack incentives to knock Tottenham Hotspur off their Premier League perch when the capital’s most bitter derby kicks off at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The west Londoners have lorded it over Spurs for the past two decades, bagging sackfuls of silverware while Tottenham yearn for a return to their glory days.
Under Mauricio Pochettino Spurs twice finished above Chelsea in the standings, but missed out on the title to the Blues by seven points after an intense race in 2017.
The season before Chelsea finished 10th but even then had the last laugh in a bad-tempered draw at Stamford Bridge that killed the title dream of Pochettino’s team.
Tottenham are again hinting at a title charge and will go into the weekend top of the league after at least nine rounds for the first time since 1985.
That the architect of their resurgence is Jose Mourinho – the manager once idolised by the Stamford Bridge faithful for delivering three Premier League titles in two stints – makes it all the harder to swallow for Chelsea.
Apart from a remarkable 6-1 win at Manchester United, Spurs’ relatively comfortable run of fixtures led many to suggest they were in a false position. Last week’s 2-0 win over Manchester City changed all that. It was a Mourinho masterclass.
City had more shots and more possession, but hosts Tottenham were clinical and the fact that they left Gareth Bale on the bench spoke volumes for the depth they have in their squad.