Tottenham will welcome Chelsea to north London on Monday night for a mouth-watering Premier League contest.
Paul Merson believes that Chelsea stand a better chance against teams vulnerable to a counter-attack
Arsenal legend Paul Merson believes that Tottenham’s newfound confidence could work against them when Chelsea come to town on Monday night. Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues will go into the game off the back of a disappointing defeat to Brentford, but a dynamite performance from Cole Palmer gave fans something positive to stew on.
In years gone by, Chelsea routinely went into meetings with Spurs as the overwhelming favourites, but the two sides are poles apart at this stage of the campaign.
Ange Postecoglou has hit the ground running in north London, with Tottenham top of the Premier League table and undefeated after 10 matches. Pochettino, meanwhile, has only won three league games as his Chelsea side languish in the bottom half.
The Blues have struggled particularly against teams they should overpower on paper, with last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Brentford a case in point.
“I’d be more confident of going to Tottenham on Monday than playing Brentford at home,” Merson told Sky Sports. “I know Tottenham are going to have a go. I know [Raheem] Sterling, [Nicolas] Jackson and people like that on the counter-attack… I’ve seen Chelsea on the counter-attack.”
While Spurs are expected to try and put Chelsea on the back foot, Merson believes that Palmer could be the key to unlocking more stubborn defences later in the season, like the one Brentford set up at Stamford Bridge last time out.
The 21-year-old has been a revelation since signing from Manchester City during the summer, and Merson has rewarded his creativity behind the strikers with a comparison to all-time Premier League great Dennis Bergkamp.
“When they come up against teams who sit back and give them no space, they’ve only got Cole Palmer who’s going to try and break anybody down,” he added. “I thought he was outstanding [against Brentford] the other day. He was like the Dennis Bergkamp of Chelsea with the opportunities he made, but in the second half he ran out of ideas.
“I’ll be shocked if Chelsea lose on Monday, I’ll be shocked. This is the only time in a long time that Tottenham fans will be turning up expecting to beat Chelsea, and they should, but it’s a different pressure now.”
Pochettino will be desperate to prove Merson right and come out on the winning side against his former employers, having spent five years with the Lilywhites between 2014 and 2019.