The hosts will be without starting central midfielder Mateo Kovacic after manager Thomas Tuchel provided an update on the Croatian’s situation ahead of kickoff.
“Kova, who is injured,” he said.
“Unfortunately, he has issues with his knee… We decided to take a step back and increase treatment time and reduce the stress that comes from training.”
The 28-year-old was named on the bench for the Blues’ 1-0 win over Everton last weekend but now he will not be involved at Stamford Bridge today, much to the delight of Spurs.
Chelsea were something of a bogey team for the Lilywhites last season as Conte’s side lost all four meetings and failed to get on the scoresheet. Kovacic played an integral role in three of those games, which included an assist in their 3-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
When available, Kovacic is an important player for Tuchel. He finished last season as his seventh-best performer in the top-flight – not only did he average two tackles per game, but he influenced the game going forward too, managing 1.1 key passes per outing, which was more than Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
Indeed, he was the only player in Europe to manage 0.4+ big chances created per 90 and 2.5+ tackles won per 90 throughout 2021/22, so it’s no wonder that his manager has previously lauded him as “crucial to us on the pitch and off the pitch.”
Not having a player of this nature available will come as a gutting blow to Tuchel and Chelsea but for Spurs, this is certainly a huge bonus as the game could be won or lost in the heart of the pitch.
Whether it’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur, or even summer signing Yves Bissouma, the Tottenham engine room will be glad to not see the Croatian involved at Stamford Bridge today.
Conte will be licking his lips at the prospect of playing Chelsea without Kovacic.
AND in other news, Conte now eyeing 8th summer signing at Spurs…