After thrashing arch-rivals Arsenal 3-0 on Thursday night, Antonio Conte’s side moved to within one point of a place in the top four but the Clarets, who also need a win to bolster their survival chances in what is surely a huge game at either end of the table.
The Italian head coach is left with plenty to ponder in terms of team selection and he could well be tempted to remain unchanged – some of his in-game decisions against the Gunners certainly suggested that as both Heung-min Son and Dejan Kulusevski were withdrawn prematurely.
And the latter is an interesting dilemma, having already been dropped from the starting XI once in recent weeks, despite a red-hot start to life in the English captial.
Since his move from Juventus in January, the Sweden international has delivered three goals and eight assists across 18 appearances, including two assists from the bench against Leicester City, where he was initially amongst the substitutes for nearly an hour.
Conte may have felt he was in need of a rest but it does show that he’s not completely undroppable, with both Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn as alternative options.
Tired or not, Kulusevski must start against the Lancashire outfit today.
As per FBRef, Kulusevski ranks amongst the top 2% of all his positional peers across Europe’s ‘big five’ divisions for assists per 90 (0.46), amongst the top 4% for pressures (23.96 per 90) and amongst the top 6% for interceptions (1.69 per 90).
It’s no wonder he has quickly cemented himself as first-choice under Conte as he clearly defends from the front, often forcing the opposition into a mistake or handing the possession back to Spurs.
Elsewhere, the Juve loanee is third to only Son and Harry Kane for shots (1.4 per game) and second to the South Korean for key chances created (1.4 per game), via WhoScored.
The Clarets are expected to be without their first-choice central defensive pairing of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, so Kulusevski could quite easily wreak havoc at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this afternoon.
Said to be in “ridiculous” form by football.london reporter Alasdair Gold, the persistence with the Swedish machine out wide could seriously bolster the Whites’ top-four chances.
He must be unleashed once more today.