After thumping Aston Villa in the League Cup, this weekend sees us return to Premier League action for Spurs vs Chelsea.
With the return of Jose Mourinho to these shores, this fixture has been given plenty of build-up. The fact that it roles around so early in the season only adds to the hype.
So what can we expect from the new-look Mourinho Blues and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea this time?
Chelsea set up and style
From what we’ve seen of Jose’s second period in charge, Chelsea have returned to playing a counter attacking style. However, they’re aggressiveness alters depending on the situation of the match and the opposition.
Against Hull they came blasting out of the traps in to a 2-0 lead. Then spent the second half playing defensively, soaking up pressure and attempting to spring forward from deep. Some commentators thought that they were tired, but this shutting down of the game is nothing new of a Mourinho side.
At Everton however, they were forced to play from behind, as the Toffees controlled possession and pressed them back in the first half. Chelsea seemed happy to sink and play on the counter, but once Everton were in the lead, they had to go on the offensive. Mourinho threw on two strikers and went with a back three, but this was again something we’ve seen him do whilst in charge at Real Madrid.
His choice of formation has changed between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. In the latter he has inverted the central triangle and altered the position of his wingers to wide forwards.
His back four usually remains intact and his consistent choice of having a bigger full back in Branislav Ivanovic and smaller one in Ashley Cole has been interesting. Cesar Azpilicueta who did well under Rafa Benitez, especially getting forward to cross, is yet to get a look in. The ball often moves quicker and over greater distances to Ivanovic from the centre of the park.
Than it does to Cole, who receives more shorter passes up the line.
John Terry and Gary Cahill have been his choice in the centre and the pair are often screened by two midfielders, forcing opponents wide.
Mikel and Ramires are the first choices in here. The Nigerian acts as the holding player and the Brazilian bursts forwards from deep, often getting in to scoring positions in the inside right channel.
Ahead of them, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle have been the selections. The Brazilian often starts as a number ten, but interchanges with the other two. He has a great ability to glide past opponents from dropping deep. This also forces his marker to make a decision of whether to go with him or not, thus moving him out of position. Others can then burst forward, especially Ramires, as Chelsea try to score from through balls.
Andre Schurrle is more natural playing on the left and cutting inside on to his right foot to shoot, something he did well for Bayer Leverkusen. He has had several good opportunities to score this season, but so far has failed to open his account. It’s been interesting that Mourinho has used him on the right and up front, but only started him in his more natural position on the left in Chelsea’s recent match at home to Fulham.
Like Schurrle, Eden Hazard has had a disappointing start to the season, but he is still a threat to provide a through pass, often for Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian has shown good movement to run the channels, but still looks like he needs a few more games under his belt before he can be judged on just how dangerous he will be.
Ramires’ forward bursts
One player who has looked dangerous so far with his forward runs from midfield has been Ramires.
With all of the other goings on at The Bridge, the Brazilian international hasn’t been receiving much attention. However, he is someone that the Tottenham tactics need to scheme for when Oscar comes deeper.
This movement has pulled opposition defenders out and Ramires has been filling the channels they leave. He was extremely aggressive against Fulham, attempting 5 shots.
Whilst playing slightly deeper against Everton, he still got forward in to the opposition box for 3 shots, including one which was tipped past the post by Tim Howard.
Ramires might not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking about stopping the opposition, but his movement when combined with Oscar’s needs to be considered.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea should focus on covering his midfield runs from deep. It’ll be interesting to see if AVB plays Sandro instead of Moussa Dembele in the holding role or if Paulinho is tasked with tracking him.
Chelsea scoring through the inside channels
This season, Chelsea’s style of creating chances has been very similar to our own. That is one of playing through balls to get a runner in-behind the defence who can then either shoot or cross the ball to a team mate.
This was highly evident from their opener against Aston Villa, were Eden Hazard streaked through.
Also at Everton, where Schurrle and Eto’o were trying to run in-behind.
And similarly at home to Fulham, where the ball was laid off or played through the channels.
Chelsea have only scored 7 goals in 5 Premier League matches, but they have been dominating the shot count. Their 92 so far has only been eclipsed by our 105, which highlights the inconsistent nature of their finishing.
We are currently playing the through ball game, so the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea here should see us capable of stopping it by pressing the man on the ball early.
Chelsea conceding from wide
With Chelsea often deploying two men in front of the defence, this forces opponents out of the middle due to the congestion.
This has really made them a tough team to break down, only having conceded two goals. On top of that, we are the only side to have allowed fewer shots in the Premier League than them this season.
Both goals they have conceded so far have come from wide positions.
Christian Benteke rifled home an equaliser at Stamford Bridge after great work on the wing by Gabriel Agbonlahor to get in-behind in the right back zone.
Everton notched the only goal of the game at Goodison after a neat through ball by Ross Barkley got Leon Osman in-behind in the left back zone this time.
His cross was nodded back across goal by Nikica Jelavic for Steven Naismith to score.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Chelsea here may see us do well to get the ball in-behind in the full back areas for our wide forwards to run on to. From here they can either square or chip it across to Roberto Soldado and the opposite wide forward in the middle or Paulinho’s late bursts in to the box.
Eric Lamela with his better crossing and eye for a pass would be more preferable to Andros Townsend on the right. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the nod along with Nacer Chadli on the other side, who offers more width than Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Spurs vs Chelsea outlook
The focus will be on Andre vs Jose, but this game will be a real litmus test of how far we’ve come this season.
Chelsea will be difficult to break down, but so will we, with both of us having conceded the fewest shots and goals in the Premier League this season.
Whether Jose decides to have his team come out aggressively, looking to grab a goal and then sink deep. Or whether they drop back from the start, soaking up pressure and looking to hit quickly on the counter will be interesting.
One thing that is for sure is that this will be an immense battle between two studious tacticians. Both will be looking to surprise each other in order to get the upper hand.
Spurs vs Chelsea prediction: Spurs 1 Chelsea 1.
Well balanced and thought out article. As a blue I agree with much of your assessment. Its refreshing to see such unbiased comment in a london derby. well done.