Mauricio Pochettino will make his much-anticipated return to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night when his Chelsea team travels across the capital to play their London rivals in a thrilling Premier League match.
Two Fridays ago, the Lilywhites defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 to hold their top spot, and the Blues defeated Blackburn Rovers 2-0 in the middle of the week to advance to the EFL Cup quarterfinals.
Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou has warned ex-Spurs boss Pochettino not to expect a guard of honour when he makes his North London return on Monday evening, but come the end of the campaign, teams could line up in applause for the Australian’s free-flowing troupe if performances continue in the same vein.
Pochettino’s exit from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was undoubtedly bittersweet; Daniel Levy took the decision just months after the Argentine won the runners-up trophy in the Champions League, but everyone in attendance should only be happy to see him return to the Lilywhites.
Though Chelsea’s recent encounters with London rivals have been less than stellar, the Blues were left to lament ninety minutes of carelessness against West London rivals Brentford, who scored twice on the counter through Ethan Pinnock and Bryan Mbeumo to make it three straight wins at Stamford Bridge. The Blues had also thrown away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with comeback kings Arsenal.
Eleventh-placed Chelsea, who could be dropped in the next few hours, is unable to escape the abyss of mid-table mediocrity after their mini-revival was put down. However, they did manage to salvage some pride when they defeated Blackburn in the EFL Cup semifinals thanks to a superb Raheem Sterling curler and a side-footed finish by Benoit Badiashile.
The Chelsea supporters can find solace in the knowledge that their team has won seven points from its previous three away top-flight games, despite the fact that those matches were against Fulham, Bournemouth, and recently promoted Burnley—three teams in the lowest half of the table. This is despite the Blues’ ongoing struggles at Stamford Bridge.
Though months after Chelsea’s thrilling 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, their February visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ended in a 2-0 loss, and one would pay a pretty penny to hear Pochettino’s thoughts as he tries to prevent the Blues from suffering their 16th Premier League loss of 2023 at his old headquarters.
Although some supporters may have created scripts for Pochettino to end Tottenham’s winning streak on Monday night, Postecoglou ought to trash those screenplays given the Lilywhites’ impressive victory over nearly every opponent.
On home ground, the North London giants are typically dependable to make the net bulge multiple times, and Postecoglou’s team will also have some ground to make up against their old boss.