Nacer Chadli scored twice on his Premier League debut for Mauricio Pochettino, as he appears to have settled in to his new role.
In just his second season, Nacer Chadli finds himself with his third manager and a third different role on the team.
In infrequent starts due to injury, Andre Villas-Boas employed the Belgian as a wide forward. He wanted him to cut inside on his favoured right foot to shoot or use his speed to get beyond the full back so that he could pull back short crosses.
His second role arrived as Tim Sherwood took over. To begin with, Chadli was once more on the treatment table, but was also out of favour.
When he did get his chance, Sherwood employed him as a central winger. Someone who starts in the middle, but floats to either side in order to create overloads on each flank. A good example of this was in our home match with Southampton.
Sherwood was focussed on crossing and Chadli was part of the process to work the ball in to areas from where it could be delivered in to the box from both flanks.
With the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, Nacer Chadli now has his third different role, as he has become part of an interchangeable trio of advanced midfielders.
This new position gives him a lot more freedom to make decisions about where he locates himself, but has two distinct phases. Firstly out wide and then secondly roaming in to central areas.
Nacer Chadli staying wide
Although the trio of advanced midfielders change positions, Nacer Chadli was invariably the most left sided of the three in the attacking phase against QPR.
When the Belgian is wide on this side it is usually when Emmanuel Adebayor has drifted out here and they can form a nice triangle with Danny Rose.
We can see from Chadli’s passes received against QPR how he spends a lot of time out on the left in order to gain the ball.
We can also see how Emmanuel Adebayor comes short for the ball across the pitch, but also how heavily focused he was on the left flank also.
The pair linked up nicely, but were also helped by Danny Rose who often shot past them, but on the under lap.
We can see that here, as Adebayor has the ball out on the left, forming a nice triangle with Chadli and Rose who is in-field from him. The Togolese striker has the option to play either of them with a through pass to send them running towards the by-line.
Rose’s inside movement on the under lap can also be seen here. Chadli and Adebayor again are involved out on the left flank, as the full back looks to dart in-field from them both through the channel.
This provides a through ball passing option so Rose can get in to a crossing situation or at the very least it takes defenders with him.
It was an effective tactic and a major part in our fourth goal as Nacer Chadli had the ball out on the left touchline. He then flicked it round the corner for Rose to shoot by inside him on the under lap and square for Emmanuel Adebayor to make it Spurs 4 QPR 0.
This three man game of Nacer Chadli out wide, joined by Emmanuel Adebayor, whilst Danny Rose shot through on the under lap, was prevalent all match.
What it does is keep the defence honest, as Chadli stays wide and is not just running inside all the time. Constantly moving in field would make him easier to mark, as the defence could just have an extra man in central midfield.
Nacer Chadli moving inside
Whilst Chadli spent a good deal of time on the left, he also drifted inside and switched positions with Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.
This is the second part of his new role, in that he now can go inside and locate himself in central areas more regularly.
He does this for three main reasons.
Firstly, to provide an extra body in central midfield to outnumber the opposition. I’ve often talked about how Mauricio Pochettino likes to get four men in central midfield and this inside movement provides that.
Secondly, it then gives us extra runners in central areas on fast break situations and therefore passing options.
Thirdly, it adds an extra body, and someone with height in the box, on crossing situations.
All of these factors came together on our, and Nacer Chadli’s, first goal of the game against QPR on Sunday.
A swarm in central midfield tackled Loic Remy, as we had four men in the area with Bentaleb, Lamela, Eriksen and Nacer Chadli present.
With Chadli and Lamela in the central area, we had two fast runners that could break in to dangerous positions as we swept forward.
A cross to Chadli, who was moving to the back post, finished the move as Emmanuel Adebayor found him.
Being in the box to get on the end of a cross is now going to be a major part of his role. This was also how his second goal of the game arrived. The passage of play once more highlighted his movement to break forward from a central area as we had four men in the middle of the park. Quite often, Chadli was looking to get in between the lines to receive the ball or start his run.
What the move for the goal also highlighted was that of Danny Rose to get forward on the overlap this time.
Although he didn’t touch the ball in this part of the move, the full back was looking to jet in to the large amount of vacant space caused by Nacer Chadli moving in-field.
Whilst under lapping when Chadli was out wide, Rose’s overlapping in to the space caused by the Belgian’s in-field movement is another part of the role.
This allowed Rose to get in to crossing situations as he was now left 1v1, as we can see here.
He was also looking to burst forwards in order to support from out wide, as we can see here. Nacer Chadli is looking to start his run from a central position between the lines as Nabil Bentaleb travels forward. Rose is sprinting up the pitch to provide width on the overlap.
Chadli’s in-field movement compliments Rose’s zest for getting forwards as he has defensive cover from Nabil Bentaleb who fills in for him.
The new role of Nacer Chadli
After differing roles for AVB and Tim Sherwood, Nacer Chadli has made an excellent start to the one given to him by Mauricio Pochettino.
In this system, Chadli has more freedom to make choices about where he moves. Those decisions are affected by the movement of Emmanuel Adebayor, but they also have a knock-on as to whether Danny Rose under or overlaps him.
When out wide, he can form a three-man game with Adebayor and Rose. When he moves in to the middle, his speed becomes a factor on fast break situations and his height on crosses, as he showed to devastating effect against QPR.