Premier League: 5 keys to Spurs vs Chelsea

Next up is Spurs vs Chelsea in the Premier League, but just how do you take on Jose Mourinho’s well-oiled machine?

The tough fixtures continue to come thick and fast, but at least they are in front of the White Hart Lane faithful. Hot on the heels of Man Utd’s visit, Chelsea are the next side to show up at the Lane and are an even more daunting proposition than Louis van Gaal’s men.

After finishing third in the last campaign, Jose Mourinho has re-tooled and re-moulded his side.

They easily won the first encounter four weeks ago at the Bridge, winning 3-0. So, what should we be on the lookout for and are there any ways to take on the Blues in Spurs vs Chelsea this time?

1. Navigating the Chelsea pressure

Jose Mourinho has always coached a counter attacking style, but this season he has his side playing with different levels of pressing at home and away.

At Stamford Bridge, he often has side drop off in an attempt to draw the opposition out. Many opponents will come and sit back; this is his way of creating the space for the likes of Eden Hazard to exploit.

Take Chelsea’s home Premier League match with West Brom where they rarely recovered the ball in the final third, but often in the middle third.


Chelsea ball recoveries against West Brom.

Compare that to their away trip to Sunderland where Mourinho’s men were much more aggressive in their pressing.


Chelsea recoveries against Sunderland.

The reason for this difference is that the home team are often forced to come out and play in front of their own fans. Therefore, Mourinho can be more aggressive and push his team up when they are on the road as the home side will leave more space. This is part of the reason why Chelsea struggle at grounds like Villa Park and St. James’s Park, where both Aston Villa and Newcastle will always sit back and play on the counter.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea should see the Blues try to press us higher up the pitch. Chelsea did a formidable job of this in second half at Southampton, where the home team struggled to get the ball across the halfway line for long periods after the interval.

Coupled with this is our unenviable record of conceding in the first 15 minutes of matches, which could well see Jose instruct his team to go for it from the off.

2. How Chelsea create chances

Going forward Chelsea are a team that creates chances from short, neat through balls and dribbling that have two outcomes.

The first is that it allows a runner to latch on to the through pass and get a shot away. Eden Hazard’s goal against Southampton at the weekend was very much in this mould.

The second sees the player from the through pass in a position to provide a short cross or pull back from inside the area.

Chelsea very much created chances in this manner in their recent away trip to Sunderland. Most of the short through passes come down Eden Hazard’s side at the left corner of the penalty area.


Chelsea chances created against Sunderland.

Chelsea are not naturally a crossing team, but when they do, they will often be delivered from very short distances. This is designed to get the deliverer of the ball as close to his target as possible, which should increase the accuracy of his cross.

Chelsea’s recent home match with West Brom saw them create from their usual through passes on Hazard’s left flank. But they also opened the scoring from a short cross as Cesc Fabregas found Diego Costa.


Chelsea chances created against West Brom.

Stopping Chelsea from creating chances this way is extremely difficult. The reason being that Jose Mourinho has two natural playmakers on the field in Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas.The Belgian can move the ball quickly through dribbling and passing as he drifts in from the left. The Spaniard is tough to pick up as he moves forward from deep and can often get on the ball unmarked between the lines.

3. Taking away space between the lines

With Hazard and Fabregas on the field, teams that have had success in stopping Chelsea this season, Newcastle and Sunderland, have taken away space between the lines.

This was something we failed to do in Chelsea 3 Spurs 0 four weeks ago, as Hazard got on the ball to play a one-two with Drogba for their first.


Hazard in space between the lines.

Then Oscar was left to roam free between our defence and midfield to set up the second.


Oscar between the lines and Drogba/Willian overload.

Many teams have tried and failed to stop them this season. However, sitting deep and trying to take away the space between the lines has been the favoured tactic. What’s more, taking away space to stop the neat intricate through passes by crowding the middle has also been effective.

Sunderland did this well in their 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light to keep Chelsea shooting from range.


Sunderland take away central space.

Newcastle barely made a tackle in the Chelsea half, but they too restricted the Blue’s chances until Steven Taylor was sent off.


Newcastle tackles against Chelsea.

At the weekend, Southampton ended up being camped in their own half, but held Chelsea to just one shot on target as they took away this central space.

As Hazard has the ball here, all ten Southampton outfield players are in shot. Although they aren’t as organised as they could be, they were still stopping Hazard’s dribbling or short through ball passes.


Southampton congest the centre.

The Tottenham tactics for Chelsea vs Spurs may well see us adopt the counter attacking approach we saw at the Emirates in Arsenal 1 Spurs 1. This proved extremely effective in taking away the space the Gunners like to enjoy between the lines. It also kept them out of the middle and allowed us to play on the break.

4. Exposing Ivanovic

Chelsea once more have been extremely tough to break down this season. Teams that have done it go about the task in two ways.

The first is to expose Branislav Ivanovic going forward and not recovering his position in time. Sunderland created several chances in holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw from getting behind the right back, but were unable to profit.


Sunderland chances against Chelsea.

Southampton at the weekend, also took advantage on Sadio Mane’s goal. Although John Terry made a fatal error to step up and play offside, Ivanovic was caught up field with too many other Chelsea players around the ball.


Ivanovic caught too high up.

Newcastle are the only team to have beaten Chelsea in the Premier League and they took advantage of Ivanovic, twice.

Their opening goal came as they were able to isolate the right back with two players running against him. Mousa Sissoko had the ball and was able to draw Ivanovic towards him, just enough to allow a pass to Sammy Ameobi. Papiss Cisse prodded the winger’s cross home.


Sissoko draws Ivanovic to allow Ameobi to cross.

Newcastle’s second arrived by exposing Ivanovic’s positioning, but also Chelsea’s other weakness, quickly countering on the break.

Jack Colback tackled Hazard in central midfield with Ivanovic caught up playing almost as a right-winger. This allowed Newcastle to surge quickly forward in transition with Chelsea, and Ivanovic, caught up field.


Colback tackles Hazard as Ivanovic is caught up field.

As Ivanovic tried to recover, Colback slid the ball in to Mousa Sissoko, who had cut in-behind Gary Cahill from the right back’s side of the field. Sissoko’s falling pass/shot was hoovered up by Papiss Cisse who had his second easy finish of the game.


Colback finds Sissoko running in from the right.

Scoring against a Chelsea side that has kept six clean sheets in their last eight Premier League matches will be no easy feat. If we are to give Chelsea problems, then counter attacks and looking to expose Branislav Ivanovic’s right back zone are the way to do it.

5. Dictating the tempo

This game could be a tight affair or it may well get out of hand depending on both manager’s tactics.

Mourinho could well have his side come out and look to blow the game wide open due to our poor record of conceding early on in matches.

How aggressive Mauricio Pochettino sets us up will dictate the pace and tempo. A closed formation, such as we saw on our trip to the Emirates, may well stifle Chelsea and see a tighter, slower game. An open one, like we set up in away at Man City, could make for a very fast and high-scoring affair.

The choice at what pace the game is played will sit with our manager and with us being the home side. Choosing to sit back and then trying to let our new-found fitness tell in the last 30 minutes may well be Pochettino’s plan.

Concentration will be key in whatever we do, something we lost briefly at the Bridge and were two goals down in as many minutes.

Spurs vs Chelsea outlook

This is another big game to gauge just how far along the road we are under Mauricio Pochettino.

Home games have proved more of a struggle this season, but we are unbeaten in our last six at White Hart Lane in all competitions.

Spurs vs Chelsea prediction: Spurs 1 Chelsea 2.

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8 Responses to Premier League: 5 keys to Spurs vs Chelsea

  1. ses 31st December 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I Feel we will be very vulnerable through the middle with Mason and Bentaleb!
    It will be men against boys, if we seriously want champions league football i cant see those two good enough or have enough presence to take us there, we really need an up grade for us to realise this, and also to actually play how pochettino wants!
    southampton was already playing exciting effective football around the same amount of time Pochettino was there, and they took it on board for all to see, these players dont seem to have the capacity for this philosophy, hence why until they get players who can implement this system effectively then we will see proper progress!!
    At the moment even the players at man u have taken their new style effectively as shown on sunday!
    while we have been playing poorly, bar Newcastle!!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st January 2015 at 11:04 am #

      I think we have been improving over recent weeks, but yes i agree that Mason and Bentaleb will be too lightweight here, also too inexperienced to deal with Matic and Fabregas.

      Pochettino has had time to look at the squad and decide what he needs, so January could be a telling month of what positions he is looking at. Even if we don’t manage to bring players in during this window, the targets, or what the tiny fragments you can believe out of the media hype, will give clues for where he will look to strengthen in the summer.

  2. anotherwisemonkey 31st December 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    Good points, as ever. If we’re going to attack Ivanovic this favours Rose over Davies. Walker will obviously come in at RB. Is there an argument for Stambouli or Dembele partnering one of Mason or Bentaleb in the middle?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st January 2015 at 11:06 am #

      It does favour Rose for me. I’d like to see Dembele in midfield with Bentaleb, i fear we need to get some big bodies in there to stop Matic controlling this zone. Also i feel Dembele would match up well against Fabregas.

      • Zack 1st January 2015 at 10:35 pm #

        Frighteningly accurate. Rose, Bentaleb, and Dembele were all instrumental in winning today. Great analysis!

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd January 2015 at 11:32 am #

          Awesome comment, thanks Zack.

  3. Reinert 1st January 2015 at 3:43 am #

    Demebele-Bentaleb-Mason in the midfield with Eriksen(or Lennon) Kane and Chadli in front could both defend and counter pretty well? Our back four should be clever, more than fast, I would favour Davies and Chiriches with Verts and Fazio.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st January 2015 at 11:08 am #

      They would defend the counter pretty well, my choice would be Bentaleb, Dembele and Eriksen in here, with Chadli and Lamela at wide forwards flanking Kane. Back four of Walker, Fazio, Verts and Rose… and Lloris in net to complete the XI :)