How Nuno Espirito Santo can help Spurs end poor run against Chelsea

Nuno Espirito Santo has an encouraging record against Chelsea and beat the odds to take four points off them last season… so can the Spurs boss end his new side’s atrocious run of SEVEN winless games against their London rivals?

  • Outside of shootouts Tottenham have failed to beat Chelsea in last seven games
  • But Nuno Espirito Santo has a good Premier League record against the Blues
  • Tottenham will host Chelsea when the teams meet in a London derby on Sunday
  • Nuno has to nullify threat of in-form striker Romelu Lukaku for the visitors
  • But Spurs also need to show more attacking guile after Crystal Palace defeat 

Tottenham haven’t enjoyed the best of fortunes in recent times when compared with their London rivals Chelsea.

Since 2019, the north London side have slid from being Champions League finalists and regulars in the competition to scrapping for qualification into UEFA’s new tertiary tournament, the Europa Conference League.

The Blues meanwhile in that same period have broken back into the top four as the teams prepare to meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, and head into the derby as European champions.

Nuno Espirito Santo will hope to get Tottenham back to winning ways in the Premier League

Spurs slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last time out, ending their unbeaten start

Even in matches between the teams, Spurs have suffered, failing to win any of their last seven outside of a penalty shootout.

But they may have a handy operator in new manager Nuno Espirito Santo to end that barren run, given the former Wolves boss has an impressive record against the Blues.

Sportsmail looks at how Nuno and Tottenham’s record stacks up against Chelsea, and how the Spurs boss can get one over Thomas Tuchel’s side once more. 

The Tottenham manager instructs his side during training at Hotspur Way on Wednesday


Harry Kane (left) and Dele Alli put in the hard yards ahead of Sunday’s clash with Chelsea

Nuno vs Chelsea 

After guiding Wolves into the top flight, Nuno has since faced Chelsea six times and has only tasted defeat twice.

Both came during the 2019-20 season, and one proved to be one of his poorer days at Molineux as in a September 5-2 loss his side were 4-0 down before the hour mark – with Tammy Abraham scoring a hat-trick.

A minute amount of respectably to the scoreline was restored the following July in Project Restart as they went down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud scoring on the cusp of half-time.

Nuno though will be happier with his side’s display in the seasons either side of that Blues double. 

Tammy Abraham netted a hat-trick when Chelsea won 5-2 at Wolves back in September 2019

Pedro Neto struck a last gasp winner to help Nuno’s Wolves defeat Chelsea last season

In December 2018, goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota helped Wolves come from behind following a Ruben Loftus-Cheek opener to win at Molineux, and they were on course to win at Stamford Bridge later in the season through another Jimenez effort only for Eden Hazard to score a last-gasp equaliser.

Last term, they produced another comeback to defeat Chelsea at home with Giroud’s opener cancelled out by Daniel Podence before Pedro Neto hit a last minute winner against Frank Lampard’s outfit.

By the time the reverse fixture was played a month later back in January, Tuchel was in the hot seat for his first game in charge, but his side were unable to break down a stubborn Wolves defence despite boasting nearly 80 per cent of possession in a 0-0 draw.

Thomas Tuchel’s first game as Chelsea boss saw him share a goalless draw with Wolves

Tottenham’s not so lucky seven

Tottenham have a reputation for going into hiding when it comes to playing Chelsea stretching right back to the start of the Premier League in 1992.

Indeed, they didn’t win against the Blues in the top flight until 2006 and have only one Premier League triumph at Stamford Bridge from back in 2018.

So winless runs are not uncommon for Spurs in this fixture and they have now gone seven games without beating the Blues without the assistance of penalty kicks.

The run started back in January 2019 when Chelsea overturned a 1-0 first leg deficit in the League Cup semi-final by winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and triumphing in the resulting penalty shootout.

Kieran Trippier’s bizarre own goal gave Chelsea a comfortable 2-0 win back in 2019

A month later Spurs returned in the Premier League under Mauricio Pochettino, at least they did in theory, as a lifeless performance saw them easily rolled over 2-0 following a Pedro effort and a bizarre Kieran Trippier own goal where he slotted a finish past his own keeper Hugo Lloris.

By the end of the year during the following season, both managers had changed with Jose Mourinho in the Spurs dugout and Frank Lampard having replaced Maruizio Sarri for the Blues. But it was the same scoreline in north London with two Willian first half goals on a day where Son Heung-min was sent off.

Spurs barely improved two months later when they fell 2-0 down again to Giroud and Marcos Alonso goals, with an Antonio Rudiger own goal a minute from time offering scant consolation.

Tottenham ended the losing streak in the League Cup last season, when Erik Lamela’s late goal cancelled out Timo Werner’s first Blues goal, with Tottenham then enjoying rare delight by seeing off Lampard’s side on penalties.

Spurs drew again in a cagey goalless encounter at Stamford Bridge last November but in struggling to find the net back in March in the return fixture, they were beaten by a Jorginho penalty. 

Erik Lamela grabbed Spurs a draw against Chelsea in the League Cup last season before Jose Mourinho’s outfit triumphed via a penalty shootout

But in the Premier League Spurs slipped to another defeat, with Jorginho converting a penalty

How can Tottenham stop the high flying Blues

It’s not just head-to-head form going against Tottenham heading into the derby. Chelsea continue to fly under Thomas Tuchel.

They have won three of their four Premier League games with an aggregate score of 8-0 and their only dropped points came with a highly respectable 1-1 draw at perceived title rivals Liverpool.

They have already seen off Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium and summer signing Romelu Lukaku has quickly settled having netted at the Gunners, twice on his home debut against Aston Villa, and again on Tuesday with the winning goal against Zenit in the Champions League.

Stopping in-form Romelu Lukaku will be key to Tottenham should they wish to beat the Blues

Following his arrival at the start of pre-season, Nuno has attempted to try and fix the Spurs defence before focusing on creating chances, and before the 3-0 hammering at Crystal Palace he seemed to be making process with three straight 1-0 victories.

It may not be much of a surprise to see Spurs’s main gameplan being to stop Lukaku, and a plan to do this would be lining up with a three-man defence to suffocate the Belgian hitman space in the centre of attack.

The three-man system may benefit summer signing Cristian Romero, who can operate in the centre or to the right and could feature alongside Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez – fitness permitting for the trio.

Spurs though will be without the suspended Japhet Tanganga following his red card at Palace and will hope another summer singing in Emerson Royal can improve on his debut at Selhurst Park as a right wing-back or just as a full-back if Nuno elects just a two-man central defence.

One tactical option Nuno could deploy is playing Cristian Romero within a back-three

Nuno’s big mistake at Palace was deploying a woeful midfield trio of Harry Winks, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp which offered nothing creatively and left his side painfully short of supply  to their attacking players.

With Dele Alli still a long way off the form he once showed under Pochettino, Spurs’ creative options look even more bleak although the return of Son Heung-min to play alongside Harry Kane may give the Chelsea defence something to think about.

Chelsea are likely to line up with a back three, and that means Spurs may have space to exploit down the flanks, whatever system Nuno puts out.

With Marco Alonso and Reece James expected to offer width going forward, Nuno could try and keep the wing-backs pinned back with an attacking selection himself.

Creative options including Tanguy Ndombele could also utilised, with the midfielder yet to be used by Nuno this season in the Premier League

Spurs fans have taken to winger Bryan Gil who has also received limited league minutes

This would see Sergio Reguilon provide more attacking support down the left, and crucially this will also add width to Tottenham’s play going forward too – an aspect they suffered badly from at Palace where they had just one shot on target even with the Spaniard in the side.

If it is just to stop Chelsea bringing attacking momentum, Spurs will have to provide some extra creativity and that could come from summer signing Bryan Gil, whose dribbling on the left hand side is already starting to win over fans – even if he has yet to fully convince Nuno.

Another option could be bringing back Tanguy Ndombele into the midfield.

The record £63million signing under Pochettino has been ignored by Nuno in the Premier League thus far, and while his fitness and even future in the club look in serious doubt, Spurs don’t have many players as strong or as technically gifted on the ball as the 24-year-old central midfielder.




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