The FA Cup Semi-Final between Spurs vs Chelsea promises to be an epic Wembley battle, so we look at the key Tottenham tactics.
The Premier League’s top two go head-to-head on the hallowed turf with a place in the FA Cup Final at stake. Both teams have won one match apiece this season and Spurs vs Chelsea at Wembley Stadium promises to be another classic contest.
Ahead of the match we delve deeper in to the key weaknesses of where our opponent is vulnerable.
Space behind the defensive midfielders
Chelsea’s defensive midfield has played a key part in their success under Antonio Conte. N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas have all operated in their pivot, which looked almost impregnable during their spate of clean sheets.
However, Chelsea have wobbled in their recent Premier League matches. What’s more, the defensive midfield duo has been vulnerable in all of these games. Crystal Palace and Manchester United exposed them in their victories. Manchester City also ran riot in the space that they left in spite of defeat.
The issue for Chelsea has seen the pair become separated from their three centre backs. Once a highly effective shield, Kante, Matic and Fabregas are getting caught playing too high and leaving space for opponents to run in to.
Chelsea’s last match with Man Utd saw the Red Devils expose this space time and again. Marcus Rashford scored the opening goal, but after Ander Herrera won the ball back in a position that saw both Matic and Kante caught far too advanced up the field.
Herrera could run straight forward into the space left by the Chelsea defensive midfield duo. No pressure on the Spaniard allowed him to release Rashford’s run in-behind.
Man Utd continued to work the space between the lines that Kante and Matic left. The Red Devils should’ve added a second goal soon after. The following video shows Paul Pogba easily playing a pass in to Rashford in this space beyond the defensive midfielders. Rashford’s flick finds Jesse Lingard, who can then bring Ashley Young in to play in another chelsea weak spot, the space beyond Victor Moses.
Amongst the analysis of Manchester United’s tactics against Chelsea, this seemed to get lost. The Red Devils clearly wanted to hit this space behind the defensive midfielders as soon as possible.
This clip shows Michael Carrick winning the ball back as Man Utd press Nemanja Matic. Carrick immediately looks for Rashford’s run in to the space behind Kante.
Manchester United aren’t the only side that has looked to get in to the big spaces left behind Chelsea’s defensive midfield. Manchester City ran riot in here during the first half of their defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea went with Kante and Fabregas in this match and David Silva had a field day during the first 45 minutes. This clip shows how Man City were directly looking for Silva in this space for him to release the faster attackers against the slower Chelsea back line.
Once between the lines, Manchester City, just like Manchester United, looked to use their speed against Chelsea’s slower back line.
Pace is something Crystal Palace have in abundance up top and they combined it with getting behind the Chelsea defensive midfielders.
Again, one pass splits Chelsea wide open and finds a runner in Christian Benteke in the space beyond N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic. Benteke can use his speed to attack the slower centre backs and score.
After a spate of clean sheets, Chelsea have conceded at least one goal in their last ten Premier League matches. The space behind the defensive midfield duo from them playing too far away from their centre backs has been a big factor. The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea should seek to expose it.
Twin striker trouble
The above videos not only highlight Chelsea’s vulnerability in the space behind their defensive midfielders. Opponents that have had success against Chelsea have also either played with two strikers or got a second player forward to join the front man.
Manchester United went with the paring of Rashford and Lingard up top. Crystal Palace used Wilfred Zaha to operate higher up with Christian Benteke.
Manchester City played with Leroy Sane looking to join up with Sergio Aguero. The pair was fed by through balls from David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.
Each team achieved their aim of getting two men up top from different formations. Manchester United went 3-5-2, Crystal Palace a 4-2-3-1 and Manchester City a 4-3-3.
Spurs have also used this tactic to get two up top against Chelsea. In Spurs 2-0 Chelsea at White Hart Lane, Mauricio Pochettino opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation. The manager had Dele Alli race forward to join Harry Kane up front.
Dele’s bursts in to the box netted him two goals from soaring above the smaller Cesar Azpilicueta. Matching up on Chelsea’s smallest centre back will be key on crosses and the balls in should be targeted here.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea need to focus in on getting Dele Alli forward to join Harry Kane once more. Chelsea’s back line has very little speed in it and they can be exposed due to the space that the defensive midfielders leave.
Given Chelsea’s vulnerability to two front men, Vincent Janssen may also have a massive role to play. If we are in need of a goal, don’t bet against seeing a Janssen and Kane partnership with Kieran Trippier supplying the ammunition.
Space beyond Victor Moses
Son Heung-Min may be back on the bench in this game if Mauricio Pochettino returns to 3-4-2-1. However, the speedy South Korean will have a part to play in this match if we are in need of a goal. Son’s runs in-behind have been a feature of his recent scoring spree and they will cause Chelsea trouble.
At Stamford Bridge, Mauricio Pochettino used Son to play high and cheat in-behind wingback Victor Moses. Moses is a highly effective attacker from wide, but equally as liable defensively. If Moses does indeed play in this match, it’ll be an area to watch to see if Pochettino attacks it.
Press or counter attack?
Manchester United did extremely well by counter attacking Chelsea. The Red Devils man marking of Eden Hazard and countering was highly effective.
However, pressing has also undone the Blues recently. Manchester City scored their goal at Stamford Bridge by forcing Thibault Courtois in to a kicking error. Crystal Palace netted their first goal during their win by hemming Chelsea in and then hoovering up the resulting poor clearance.
Pressing has been our calling card under Mauricio Pochettino. I don’t see that changing despite Man Utd’s success with their man marking and countering ploy.
Spurs vs Chelsea outlook
Of the FA Cup Semi-Final teams, Chelsea is arguably the best draw for Spurs. We match up incredibly well with them and have the tools to emerge victorious. Our biggest concern is the Wembley hoodoo that has hung over much of our season.
Key areas to watch will be just how Mauricio Pochettino uses Dele Alli to get up in support of Harry Kane. If Son Heung-Min starts, will he look to hit the space behind Victor Moses?
The ever-busy Christian Eriksen will be the key player on the pitch. Our playmaker will revel if Chelsea continues to leave spaces between their defensive midfielders and centre backs.
Spurs vs Chelsea prediction: Spurs 2-1 Chelsea.
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