Tim Sherwood may have been somewhat over the top when he said Jose Mourinho had 'brainwashed' his Tottenham players into thinking they could win the Premier League title.
But after such a solid start to the season, which included a sublime defensive display against Manchester City last week, there is reason to believe Tottenham could well challenge.
Chelsea, too, must think they have a chance sitting two places behind Tottenham and Frank Lampard will no doubt relish making it three wins on the spin over Mourinho when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
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Jose Mourinho (L) and Frank Lampard (R) meet again when Tottenham face Chelsea on Sunday
It promises to be a fascinating battle between two sides who both have been tight at the back while highly efficient in attack.
Here, Sportsmail assesses some of the key battles and where the clash between first and third will be won and lost.Another Jose Mourinho defensive masterclass… can Spurs stop Hakim Ziyech as they did Kevin De Bruyne?
Last Saturday’s meeting with Manchester City in north London was supposed to spell the end of Tottenham’s good fortune. It was suggested that City’s attacking quality would be enough to break a Spurs side that had only conceded nine goals after eight games.
Instead, Pep Guardiola’s side were made to look distinctly average as Spurs set up to contain and then counter.
Son Heung-min struck early before Giovani Lo Celso added a second. It was a performance built on a strong defensive foundation.
City, often so dangerous when playing through Kevin De Bruyne, were stifled much because their chief creative spark was starved of options.
City dominated possession 66.1 per cent to 33.9 but that was mainly because Tottenham allowed them to have the ball while they retreated into a defensive shape.
Mourinho set his side out to sit deep and nullify any threat made by City star Kevin De BruyneInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The Spurs defence will now have to stop an in-form Hakim Ziyech (left) at Stamford Bridge
There were times when Son dropped so deep Serge Aurier was almost forced to overlap him while Harry Kane often strayed from his usual position in attack to the left side of midfield where he acted as another body in Tottenham’s quest to stop De Bruyne.
That they successfully handled such a threat should give Mourinho confidence of a similarly difficult challenge: preventing Hakim Ziyech from causing the sort of havoc he did when Sheffield United visited Stamford Bridge earlier in the month.
Ziyech has three assists from five games and is emerging as Chelsea’s key creator. While he does occupy a wider position on the pitch than De Bruyne, Mourinho’s plan will be to stop the former Ajax midfielder from playing defence-splitting passes to Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham.The return of Pulisic and what it means for Chelsea’s cramped attack?
He is the player Chelsea fans have been waiting to come back and it looks as though Sunday’s derby will be when they get to see Christian Pulisic somehow fit into an already packed attack.
Lampard said after Chelsea’s 2-1 win in midweek over Rennes that Pulisic would be fit in time for the game that raises questions as to where he fits in.
Lampard’s suggestion that he has ‘competition’ in attack is an understatement. Recently he has gone with Timo Werner on the left, Tammy Abraham through the middle and Hakim Ziyech on the right.
Christian Pulisic (right) will return to the team and offer more attacking options for Chelsea
It is a combination that offers plenty of variety with Abraham proving his worth centrally with Werner and Ziyech also in outstanding form.
While some may expect Pulisic to replace Abraham which would shift Werner to a more central position, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Lampard was to start the American on the bench.
In his last four games for Chelsea, Abraham has netted three times. In the 2-0 win over Newcastle he showed how much of an understanding he has developed with Werner in such a short space of time.
Abraham kept up with Werner as the German tore through the Newcastle half and got into position to supply a cool finish when the ball eventually reached him.
And if it isn’t those two combining then Ziyech is never far from unlocking opposition defences, something he did for fun against Sheffield United before the international break.
Lampard has gone with Timo Werner (R) on the left and Tammy Abraham through the middle
What we can be sure about, though, is that with Pulisic back and Callum Hudson-Odoi along with Kai Havertz and Olivier Giroud to choose from, Lampard isn’t short of attacking options.
Getting his attacking selection right against Tottenham could be the