English Premiership

Chelsea on shaky ground for Spurs test

ENCOUNTER Tottenham’s Harry Kane (right) fights for the ball with Chelsea’s Nathan Aké during the FA Cup semifinal match at Wembley Stadium in April. Picture: Andy Rain
ENCOUNTER Tottenham’s Harry Kane (right) fights for the ball with Chelsea’s Nathan Aké during the FA Cup semifinal match at Wembley Stadium in April. Picture: Andy Rain

London - Chelsea appear unprepared to defend their Premier League title, and today face a crucial test against Tottenham in just the second match of the season.

The Blues were beaten 3-2 by Burnley last weekend, in a match that saw captain Gary Cahill and midfielder Cesc Fàbregas red-carded.

And the reigning champions inexplicably found themselves three goals behind at half time at Stamford Bridge.

Álvaro Morata’s first Premier League goal just 10 minutes after coming on in the second half and an 88th-minute strike from David Luiz made the final result less embarrassing, but there will be a mild panic in the Blues’ ranks ahead of what will be a very tough test at Wembley.

Spurs, on the other hand, will be in good spirits. Following last season’s runners-up finish in the league, they made a bright start to the new campaign with a
2-0 win over newly promoted Newcastle United.

Ahead of the match, Blues boss Antonio Conte said: “Following two red cards in the last game, the team must be focused on the game on Sunday and must not find excuses.

“At this moment it is not simple, but we must be strong to face this situation. Tottenham have been doing a good job and have created a good basis.”

In team news, Chelsea are still waiting on the fitness of winger Eden Hazard (ankle injury) and Tiémoué Bakayoko (knee injury), while Pedro (ankle injury) is expected to miss out.

Cahill and Fàbregas will also be suspended after their red cards against the Clarets.

For Spurs, Kieran Trippier (ankle injury), Georges-Kevin N’Koudou (foot), Danny Rose (medial collateral ligament injury) and Érik Lamela (hip injury), are all “progressing well and will be assessed tomorrow”.

Elsewhere in England, Huddersfield Town are eager to see if their flying start to the Premier League can continue against Newcastle United.

The Terriers made a bright start to life in the top flight with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in their opening match.

The Magpies, meanwhile, were beaten by Spurs at St James’ Park, in a match that also saw midfielder Jonjo Shelvey see red just a few minutes into the second half.

We could be set for an even match-up between these two, who managed a win apiece when they met in the Championship last season, with both sides picking up three points away from home in England’s second tier.

In team news, Huddersfield will be without Martin Cranie (hip injury), Jonathan Hogg (ankle injury), Nahki Wells (ankle injury) and Jon Stankovic (anterior cruciate ligament).

For the Magpies, Florian Lejeune (ankle injury) and DeAndre Yedlin (hamstring injury) are ruled out, while Jamie Sterry (groin injury) is a slight doubt.

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