Its Spurs vs Chelsea up next for us in the Premier League, so we look at how to take on Jose Mourinho’s men.
Chelsea have become a wounded animal this season. Whether they pull themselves round and fight like champions or continue with their slide in to the mire, only time will tell.
What is known is that they cannot be taken lightly as they are still full of big names with enough quality to beat anybody on their day. So, what should we be on the lookout for in Spurs vs Chelsea this time and where are the weak spots?
Where Chelsea are conceding chances
Even when Chelsea were a stingy defensive force under Jose Mourinho, you could get at them in the right back area. Attacking the space left by the forward surges of Branislav Ivanovic was the one real route of success against what was a well-coached defensive unit.
This season and Ivanovic’s troubles have been well documented. The Serbian has struggled against both pace and trickery. So much so that Mourinho has even taken him out of the spotlight by giving Kurt Zouma a try and even switching the reliable Cesar Azpilicueta to the right side.
Whatever Mourinho has done, the issues have remained in this right back zone. Countless teams have had success against Chelsea by attacking this side, especially on their travels.
What has also emerged this season is a problem that started to surface in the last campaign. It was an issue we ruthlessly exposed in Spurs 5-3 Chelsea at White Hart Lane. That is getting quickly behind the defensive midfielders and on to the centre backs to expose their lack of mobility in space.
Last season Nemanja Matic was doing an excellent job of shielding centre backs John Terry and Gary Cahill, minimising the amount of area they had to cover. This campaign, neither he nor John Obi Mikel are anything like the players they have been in the past. Both are failing to see situations arise quickly enough. This has seen a number of teams get through or past them to have free runs at Terry and Cahill, just as Everton do here to score.
Liverpool were also excellent against the Blues in their impressive 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. The Reds pressed and trapped Chelsea in the middle third before springing forward. They started the game without a recognised centre forward, but after the introduction of Christian Benteke had a focal point to get the ball quickly in to. Benteke’s arrival saw them score twice, both times from getting at Chelsea’s centre backs in space without the help of their defensive midfielder.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea should see us look to attack in the right back zone, but once more look to get at their centre backs in space.
Usually when I talk about set pieces its because a team has a vulnerability at defending them. This game sees both sides as being strong from them, so much so that Chelsea and us sit first and second in the most Premier League goals from set pieces stat. The Blues have Willian who has added goals to an excellent delivery; we have Christian Eriksen who is equally as deadly to find the net or a teammate’s forehead.
While Willian and Eriksen are deadly with the ball, both teams do have weaknesses from corners. Ours lies in the three-man zone that Pochettino plays across the six-yard box that can see runners fail to be tracked. Chelsea’s fallibility is in their lack of players on the posts – West Ham’s opener from a corner in their recent encounter at Upton Park highlighted this once again.
Set pieces will be a key area in Spurs vs Chelsea this Sunday. Whoever takes their chances or defends them better will come out on top.
Stopping Chelsea in the inside channels
The key to stopping Mourinho sides is to get players between the lines and force them out of the centre. Chelsea love to get the ball through the inside channels, particularly the inside left channel with link up play between Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.
This pattern of play leads to shots in the box from high percentage locations and goals. Well, it did in the past. Last season Chelsea were second in the Premier League for goals from shots inside the box with 64. Only Manchester City, another side that plays through the inside channels, were better with 65.
This term and Chelsea are nineteenth in the Premier League in goals from inside the box with a measly nine. Only Aston Villa (8) have fewer.
Teams have become better at defending Chelsea through the inside channels this term with many more sides playing compact shape and getting three or four bodies in to central midfield. This forces them wide where Chelsea will often turn down the opportunity to cross. Oscar’s goal from Baba Rahman’s ball in to the box against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League was a rare sight and something they may need to get better at.
Spurs vs Chelsea outlook
It’s not often we go in to a game confident against Chelsea. Mauricio Pochettino has learnt something from every encounter with Jose Mourinho and he looks to have cracked it with our 5-3 win last season.
Our head coach will have to solve the problem of being without Dele Alli. The nineteen year old has become instrumental in our young side and would’ve been key to stopping Chelsea getting through the inside channels. His ability to then spring forward and join the attack with his surges in to the box would’ve have made him a real differential in this game.
The one mitigating factor will be travelling back from Azerbaijan and recovery for an early Sunday kick off.
Spurs vs Chelsea prediction: Spurs 2-1 Chelsea.