LONDON: Few players enjoyed Chelsea's domination of Tottenham Hotspur as much as striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink during his time at Stamford Bridge but the Dutchman believes the balance of power has shifted ahead of Sunday's derby.
One year into his reign as Tottenham manager, former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has the north London club sitting on top of the Premier League table after nine games.
Their visit to Chelsea on Sunday, where they have managed only one league win in 30 years, will offer more clues as to whether Tottenham can sustain a title challenge.
Frank Lampard's Chelsea are third and could leapfrog Tottenham with a victory but Hasselbaink believes Mourinho's side are ahead of their west London rivals in the race.
"They are very close to each other at the moment," Hasselbaink, who scored 10 goals in eight Premier League appearances for Chelsea against Tottenham between 2000 and 2004, plus two in a League Cup semi-final, told Sky Sports on Friday.
"Spurs have got the strongest team, the strongest squad that they've had in the last 10 years, or the last few years."
Lampard, Chelsea's record goalscorer, has done a "magnificent" job since taking over as manager last year according to Hasselbaink, but says he is still moulding the team into his image. Tottenham, under Mourinho, he says are closer to the finished article.
"As a squad if (Tottenham) are not winning, or close to winning, the league this year then I think they will have under-achieved," Hasselbaink said.
"I think Chelsea doesn't need to win it. Frank is not there yet. If they win it of course they will take it with two hands.
"But it's only Frank's second year, we all know what happened last year. He had to come in and let the youngsters play and he did magnificently. They have spent a lot of money but he is building for the future. In that aspect Spurs are a little bit further than Chelsea."
While Chelsea beefed up their attacking options with the signings of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, Hasselbaink rates Tottenham's forward line as the best in the Premier League.
"On paper it's the strongest, with (Harry) Kane, (Gareth) Bale who is not even firing on all cylinders yet, and Son (Heung-min), then you have Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn off the bench and Dele Alli who is not involved and Harry Winks on the bench," he said.
"Their weakest area is the two centre halves."
Despite the attacking riches available to both managers on Sunday, Hasselbaink is expecting a low-scoring game.
"It's going to be very interesting, this match," he said. "It will be close and their will not be lots of goals.
"Mourinho will go and close the shop. But there's something good going on at Spurs."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)