Date: 16th September 2021 at 5:50pm
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The Premier League returns on Friday as Newcastle United host Leeds United, before a host of exciting fixtures take place over the weekend. 

Among them, Manchester City host Southampton, Manchester United travel to West Ham United and Liverpool host Crystal Palace.

Then, on Sunday, Chelsea travel across the capital to face Tottenham Hotspur in the pick of the weekend’s games.

The fierce London derby will see two of the Premier League’s form sides go head-to-head, with just a single point separating the two sides at present.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel will have a number of difficult decisions to make with a number of players having played a lot in the opening weeks of the season.

Below, we predict the XI that Tuchel will go with for the crucial fixture against Spurs.

Goalkeeper

In goal, Edouard Mendy will expect to start and will hope to add another clean sheet to his tally against a Spurs side who have scored just three times this season and could be without Heung-Min Son.

The Senegal international has kept three clean sheets so far and will be aiming to win the golden glove award this term.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is yet to start a game this season, with his only appearance as a 119th minute substitute in the UEFA Super Cup victory over Villarreal in August.

Defence

At the back, the experience and leadership of Thiago Silva may be called upon to deal with the inevitable threat of Harry Kane. The Brazilian played in the victory over Aston Villa last week but came on as a substitute in the Champions League in midweek.

Next to him, Andreas Christensen can expect to start after another solid performance against Zenit.

The Dane has been in sensational form since Tuchel’s arrival, and will be given the nod ahead of Trevoh Chalobah, who has seen his playing time reduced in recent weeks after impressing during preseason and in the first two games of the season.

On the left, Antonio Rudiger will start and Tuchel will undoubtedly be relying on his fellow countryman to put in a solid performance to nullify the attacking threat of Spurs.

The German has been in the form of his Chelsea career to date of late, and has become something of a fan favourite as a result.

Midfield

The midfield pairing provides Tuchel with arguably is biggest selection headache, with N’golo Kane and Saul Niguez both vying to start.

The Spaniard endured a difficult debut last weekend against Villa and was substituted at half-time, with Tuchel explaining that he was naive to have believed that the on-loan Atletico Madrid man could be thrown straight into Premier League action.

Mateo Kovacic will therefore likely be selected ahead of Saul, with the Croatian having scored and assisted last weekend.

Saul struggled on his debut against Aston Villa last weekend and was substituted at half-time

Alongside him, Jorginho could be called upon once again as Kante struggles to return to fitness in time.

The Italian’s leadership could be crucial for the Blues, as too will be his ability to dictate play from the base of Chelsea’s midfield.

On the wings, Cesar Azpilicueta will likely be preferred to Reece James on the right side for his leadership and experience. The pair started together in mid week as the Spaniard played as part of the back three, but he may be shifted out wide on Sunday.

On the left, Ben Chilwell could be given his first start of the season. The England international has been kept out of the side by Marcos Alonso, but the Spaniard could be moved to the bench with Chilwell’s defensive capabilities preferred.

Forwards

Up front, Romelu Lukaku will start and hope to continue his impressive start to his second spell with the club.

The Belgian forward will fancy his chances of scoring against a Spurs backline that crumbled against Crystal Palace last weekend.

Either side of him, Mason Mount will expect to start, despite a relatively sub-par performance in midweek.

The Englishman has been a standout performer for the club for two seasons, and will relish the chance to impress in such a fierce derby.

Lukaku made it four goals in four games with a header against Zenit

Hakim Ziyech started the Champions League game on Tuesday evening but failed to impress and may once again have to settle for a place on the bench alongside Timo Werner.

Werner’s international teammate Kai Havertz will return to the starting XI having been used as a substitute against Zenit.

The forward has scored a number of crucial goals for the club during his relatively short spell in SW6, including the winner in the Champions League final and the opener against Liverpool at Anfield three weeks ago.

Cristian Pulisic remains sidelined.

With momentum and confidence sky-high in the Chelsea dressing room at present and a number of players pushing to be involved in the match from the start, Tuchel will have a number of difficult decisions to make between now and Sunday.

 
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