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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4: Midfield imbalance costs us

Spurs 2 Chelsea 4

Spurs struggled in the first half without Moussa Dembele and Gareth Bale, but pressed and drove forward in the second to take the lead. Once in front, Tottenham dropped back and were punished by an inform Juan Mata as it finished Spurs 2 Chelsea 4.

Andre Villas-Boas had to re-jig his side without Moussa Dembele and Gareth Bale. Tom Huddlestone came in for the injured Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson for the absent Bale.

Roberto Di Matteo retained his line-up that struck four past Norwich, continuing with the playmaking trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

Chelsea controlled possession by 58% to 42%, moving the ball from the back through John Obi Mikel to the attacking trio of Oscar, Hazard and Mata. Spurs dominated the shot count by 26 to 10 by virtue of our quick breaking attacks.

Missing Moussa?

Control of the game was very much in the midfield zone and the selection of Tom Huddlestone to play alongside Sandro had an unsettling effect in this area. Sandro and Moussa Dembele have formed an effective partnership that has seen the two switch roles when one moves up the pitch. Usually Sandro is the deeper of the two, but when he goes forward, Moussa Dembele fills in.

Here, Tom Huddlestone quite often played deeper than Sandro, forcing the Brazilian to go forward more, which was the reverse of what they should have been doing.

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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 Sandro often played higher up the pitch than Huddlestone.

Alongside another solid defensive player who is quick over the ground, Sandro can afford to move up the pitch. With the less defensively sound, but better passer in Huddlestone, Sandro should have sat and allowed Tom to go and pick the passes.

This made Tom Huddlestone a deeper passer than he really should have been. Apart from his guided free kick, which Jan Vertonghen nodded back across the goal for William Gallas to score, Tom was pretty ineffective. Playing in more advanced positions, Sandro moved the ball out to the wide players to attack, but lacked Huddlestone’s ability to play a through ball down the channels.

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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 Tom HUddlestone was working from deeper than Sandro.

On the Chelsea side, their approach was a lot more simpler. Gary Cahill and David Luiz split wide, allowing John Obi Mikel to drop in and pick up the ball from them and Petr Cech, to move it forward through Ramires in the inside left channel.

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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 John Obi Mikel moved the ball forward.

Spurs moved a second player in to this area to make this difficult for them, with first Gylfi Sigurdsson, then Clint Dempsey tasked with this job. This did slow Chelsea and Mikel down, but they were able to retain possession by moving it back to the centre halves or out through the full backs.

Spurs create from crossed balls

In our 5 keys to Spurs vs Chelsea we looked at how teams have had success in creating chances against Chelsea from crossed or square balls. We had a lot of success doing this in creating 16 chances and as a result, both our goals came from here.

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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 Tottenham chances created.

Tom Huddlestone’s free kick was played in to the box and Jan Vertonghen was able to nod it back across the face of the goal for Gallas to touch home to make it 1-1. Then Aaron Lennon was able to attack Ashley Cole one-on-one down the right side and his miscued shot turned out to be a nice square pass for Jermain Defoe to make it 2-1.

We identified before the game that the area in behind Eden Hazard, who doesn’t offer as much protection to Ashley Cole as Juan Mata does Ivanovic on the right, should be exposed. It was interesting that up until Mata’s equaliser, we attacked this zone and this is where our two goals came from.

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Spurs attack Chelsea’s left side in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Chelsea try to score from slid-through chances

In our 5 keys to Chelsea vs Spurs we looked at how Chelsea were sliding the ball through the defence to runners on the move. Here they were at it again, but many of the passes were well sniffed out as Spurs did a good job intercepting the ball.

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Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 – The Blues try to slide the ball through our defence, but we intercept it well.

Chelsea were able to score a goal from doing this though, as Hazard’s pass was threaded superbly behind Gallas in to the path of a cutting Juan Mata, who had run inside Kyle Walker.

Chelsea’s other goals came from defensive errors, as both William Gallas and Kyle Walker had a game to forget.

Defensive errors cost us dear

Three defensive errors were punished by three well-taken Chelsea goals.

Gary Cahill provided an excellent finish on the spin, but William Gallas failed to clear Eden Hazard’s corner, as his header looped up rather than out.

The Frenchman was also at fault for the game-tying goal, as again his attempt at a guided clearance went straight to Juan Mata. The Spaniard controlled the ball, then swept home brilliantly in to the corner of the net. Jan Vertonghen had been caught up field in the build-up though, giving away a free kick, then remonstrating with the referee. Chelsea took the dead-ball quickly, allowing Oscar to cross from the space the Belgian had vacated.

Then, with us chasing the match, Kyle Walker tried to take on Juan Mata in an ill-advised piece of defending. Walker went to ground looking for a foul that never came, allowing the Spaniard to easily square for Daniel Sturridge to tap in to an empty net, making it Spurs 2 Chelsea 4.

Spurs 2 Chelsea 4 conclusions

Missing two hugely influential players in Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele this was still a very positive performance.

We out-shot Chelsea by 26-10 and scored two goals against a team that has only conceded four times in the Premier League up until this match.

Spurs were very much in the game at 2-1 and Andre Villas-Boas was looking to sure up the midfield with Jake Livermore coming on for Tom Huddlestone. Unfortunately the substitution was about to be made as Chelsea struck the equaliser to make it 2-2. We were very much in the ascendancy at this point and should have kept going forward and pressing. There has been a ‘have what we hold’ approach with regards to substitutions on several occasions this season and AVB was looking to do the same here.

Our sitting back allowed Chelsea on to the front foot and Juan Mata became more involved in the game. Kyle Walker’s drive from distance at 2-3, which was clawed away by Petr Cech, could have put an entirely different spin on the result.

“At 3-2, we had chances to level the score and 4-2 is irrelevant because we were searching for 3-3.”

The defensive errors will naturally be focussed upon, without them the game could have had a very different score line.

The midfield balance also needed to be addressed and I was surprised AVB didn’t switch his substitution choice after Mata made it 2-2. Huddlestone was looking tired and should have been brought off, but was Jake Livermore still the right choice given the change in score? Gylfi Sigurdsson could have been moved in with Sandro and Andros Townsend could have come on to provide width and attack Branislav Ivanovic.

This was a still good performance by Spurs without Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele on what was a day full of emotion for Andre Villas-Boas.

Congratulations also to Jermain Defoe on his 200th career goal.

Final Score: Spurs 2 Chelsea 4

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