The London Derby between Chelsea and Tottenham this Sunday reignited the spirit of “the Battle of the Bridge”, with many clashes on the pitch between both the players and the managers.
With Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte facing off after the final whistle, how do the two match up in direct comparison?
Tuchel in the Premier League
Tuchel replaced Chelsea legend Frank Lampard at the club in January of 2021 following a string of bad results for The Blues. The German had previously only worked in the Bundesliga with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund and Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain, so came in completely new to the league.
Since joining Chelsea, Tuchel has guided The Blues to two successive FA Cup Finals, though unfortunately for the German and his team, Chelsea failed to win a single one of these finals. However, Tuchel also guided them to their second ever Champions League in 2021 and then to their second Super Cup since 1998 and their first ever Club World Cup.
Tuchel has taken charge of 59 games for The Blues, winning 33, drawing 17 times and losing just nine times. In all competitions, the German has a 62.5% win rate, which ranks him fourth best in Chelsea history, just one place behind Conte.
Conte in the Premier League
Conte’s time in the Premier League has been split between both Chelsea and Tottenham, with a short two-season gap that the Italian spent with Inter Milan.
Conte first came to Chelsea in the 2016/17 season, looking to steer The Blues back to Premier League glory after an embarrassing tenth-place finish the season before. Despite a mixed start, a notable fixture being the 3 - 0 loss to Arsenal, a system change was the moment that changed their entire season.
In his two seasons in West London, Conte won Chelsea’s fifth Premier League title in the 2016/17 season and their eighth FA Cup in the 2017/18 season. The Italian boasted an impressive record with The Blues, winning 69 games, drawing 17 and losing just 20 times. This also gave Conte a 65% win rate, the second-best win rate in Chelsea managerial history behind Avram Grant.
The 2022/23 season signals Conte’s second season in North London. In his time so far, Conte’s taken charge for 30 Premier League games, winning 18, drawing six and losing only six times. This gives Conte a 60% win rate during his time at Tottenham.
Premier League Specials 2022/23
CHELSEA AND TOTTENHAM TO FINISH IN TOP 4, ASTON VILLA TO FINISH IN TOP HALF, EVERTON AND WOLVES TO FINISH IN BOTTOM HALF & BOURNEMOUTH TO BE RELEGATED @ 17/2
At the end of the 2021/22 season, Chelsea sat third in the Premier League table with 21 wins, 11 draws and six losses, earning 74 points. The Blues were just three points clear of Tottenham who finished with 71 points, 22 wins, five draws and 11 losses.
Tottenham’s resurgence in 2022 under Conte was nothing less than impressive after such poor form leading up to the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo, who left in November after just three months in the job.
After just two games this season it’s tough to tell which team has the jump on each other. Tottenham’s opening weekend 4 - 1 thrashing of Southampton suggested that Spurs would be ready to really compete, completing a quick comeback after going 1 - 0 down.
Chelsea’s opening game was a hard-fought win over a stubborn Everton. A Jorginho penalty was enough to separate the sides, but Tuchel did express that he was unhappy with his team's performance. However, a change in pace was seen in the clash last weekend, with Chelsea mostly outperforming Tottenham, especially in the first half.
Overall, with new signings for both teams, most notably, Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling for Chelsea and Richarlison and Ivan Perisic for Tottenham, the battle between Chelsea and Tottenham may be as close if not even closer than last season.
The clash on Sunday did look like an echo of “the Battle of the Bridge” from six years ago, with tackles flying in and some questionable decisions.
Anthony Taylor, a referee infamous for some past decisions against Chelsea, was once again under fire from fans after the game, after letting both Tottenham goals stand despite being contentious to say the least.
For the Hojbjerg goal, there was a 50/50 challenge between Kai Havertz and Rodrigo Bentancur, that many have said is closer to a foul rather than just a challenge like Taylor and Mike Dean on VAR believed. There was also an alleged hand ball in the buildup for the Hojbjerg equaliser by Son Heung-min, but was also ignored by VAR.
For the 95th-minute equaliser by Harry Kane, there was an altercation before the corner that led to the goal. Cristian Romero was seen by VAR pulling Marc Cucurella’s hair, something that Tuchel, and many others have stated should’ve been a red card offence.
If this red card had been given, then so would’ve a subsequent free kick to Chelsea, therefore preventing the Kane equaliser. To make it worse for Chelsea, the FA came out just days later stating a red card was not given due to a lack of rules against hair pulling in football, a less an adequate answer for most affiliated with The Blues.
Following the late-stage drama, Tuchel and Conte then clashed when shaking hands which then, in turn, set off a mass scuffle between both benches. This clash between the two managers has resulted in a red card for both and fines from the FA.
A tumultuous finish to the game may have left a bad taste in Chelsea fans’ mouths but showed that Tottenham’s mentality may have improved under Conte - this match certainly re-light the missing bite from the old-fashioned London derby.