Seeking space, Mauricio Pochettino moved his most dangerous goal threats in to the wide areas to win a crucial match by a score of Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.
A narrow Chelsea team slowed Spurs down. However, in a quest to find space, Mauricio Pochettino switched his two biggest goal threats in to the wide areas. Dele Alli responded with two strikes as we ran out victorious by a score of Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham to land a huge blow in the race for a Champions League place.
Chelsea wingback work
Antonio Conte wanted to slow us down and take away the usual central pockets we like to play in. The Chelsea boss did this by pinching his wingbacks very tight to the three centre backs. Ahead of them, Conte’s midfield also played narrow, but often gave enough space for our midfield trio to roam behind them. This seemed to be by design to win the ball back. As soon as the ball went in to our advanced midifleders, the net would close and the pack around could regain possession.
The setup lent itself to be very passive, but Chelsea was anything but. As soon as possession was regained, they could spring forward with the speed of Willian and Eden Hazard, propelled by the passing of Cesc Fabregas.
However, it was in the wingback areas where the most work was put in. Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were key to the Chelsea attack. The pair had defensive responsibilities, but were equally required to get forward in attack.
Marcos Alonso almost snuck free to give Chelsea the lead, but was just offside as he raced forward to put the ball in the net. Alonso also saw his low drive towards the corner repelled by a quick reaction save from Hugo Lloris. Alonso threatened, but wingback partner, Victor Moses, would supply the game’s first goal.
The move started with Antonio Rudiger being able to move forward with the ball. Ben Davies was drawn in by the run of Willian. Suddenly, we were caught extremely narrow. As a result, Victor Moses could race forward unopposed.
Moses whipped in a cross before Ben Davies could get back out to him. Hugo Lloris attempted to come and punch but got thin air. Equally, Davinson Sanchez found himself in a bad position and contrived to get himself under the ball. Alvaro Morata couldn’t believe his luck to land a cushioned header just inside the post.
Tottenham wide play
Chelsea’s wingbacks caused us problems. However, in their defensive narrowness they equally presented us with opportunities. The space was naturally out wide. Eden Hazard’s slowness to recognise danger in the defensive phase often left Marcos Alonso to not only have to run out and cover, but often against two of our players.
Dele was a key target for our crosses, much as he had been to score twice during Spurs 2-0 Chelsea at White Hart Lane last season. It would be an attempted cross towards him, as we worked space against Alonso and Hazard once again, which would get us back on level terms.
This time it was Eric Dier with room on the right and he provided the ball in to the box. Dier’s cross for Dele was over hit, but somehow he managed to keep it in play. Victor Moses then regained the loose ball, but subsequently lost it trying to chip Ben Davies.
A swift pass inside to Christian Eriksen then saw one of the goals of the season. Eriksen cut across the ball to unleash a shot with dip, swerve and a venom that left goalkeeper Willy Caballero flummoxed and flat out on the floor. Jaw droppingly brilliant.
A sensational strike from the dynamic Dane and it served as a real body blow. Having tested Caballero with another long-range drive moments before, did the Spurs scouting team have something on the Chelsea goalkeeper picking up the flight of long shots?
Moving the goal threats to wide areas
At half time, Mauricio Pochettino made a switch that changed the game. Having seen how narrow Chelsea was and the frequent 2v1s created against their wingbacks, he moved our biggest goal threats, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min out wide. In this way, Son and Dele could expose the wingbacks’ positioning and use the space to run in-behind and get shots off.
It didn’t take long for the plan to begin to work. Son cut in from the right and unleashed a fearsome drive that Willy Caballero clawed away from nestling in the top corner.
Two minutes later and we were ahead as we used a wide attacker again. Eric Dier’s underrated long passing was once more right on point.
Dele Alli’s out-to-in runs are no secret and a well-timed thing of beauty. Dele started out wide and arced towards the middle to coincide perfectly with the arrival of Dier’s pass. He killed it out of mid-air superbly and flicked the ball expertly past Caballero with equal ease.
A more well synchronised goal between two players you will not see. What’s more, an emphatic way for Dele to answer his critics.
Dele Alli was one goal threat moved to the space out wide. Son Heung-Min was the other. Son would play a large part in the goal to ice the game.
There were a number of Chelsea errors that slick and intricate Tottenham passing ruthlessly exposed. N’Golo Kante was caught up the pitch. Antonio Rudiger was therefore drawn out and Alonso was slow to recognise the run off him. An exquisite one-touch pass from Christian Eriksen found Son’s run in to the space off Alonso with Rudiger also caught out.
Son received the pass in stride and cut towards goal. He should’ve squared the ball, but in trying to score himself, a melee ensued. The calmest player was Dele Alli. As the ball pinged around, Dele recovered it and calmly slotted home to the rapturous delight of the away end. Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham and a first victory at Stamford Bridge in 28-years was on.
Pochettino stays one step ahead
Chasing the game, and seeing how the goal threats were coming from Son and Dele in the wide areas, Antonio Conte changed shape. Both Chelsea wingbacks were withdrawn as the Blues went 4-4-2.
The extra ammunition up top was on the field, as were conventional full backs to deal with our runs from wide areas. However, a quick switch by Pochettino to play 4-3-3 then overwhelmed Chelsea in the middle of the park and got runners to work the channels in-between a stretched back four.
Spurs just simply played through these channels to create shots. Erik Lamela had the best opportunity, but couldn’t convert with time and space from a Ben Davies pass.
The game ended with Tottenham continuing to be in the ascendancy as we simply played around and through Chelsea. The final score of Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham was greeted with massive cheers as a first victory at Stamford Bridge for 28-years put a long unwanted record to rest.
Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham overall
A massively impressive victory. One that lands a real body blow to Chelsea’s top four chances whilst improving our own.
A great effort from our players, combined with excellent coaching and tactical switches by Mauricio Pochettino. Firstly, to move our goal threats in to the spaces in the wide areas when convention should dictate that they stay in the middle. Secondly, to then shift formation to a 4-3-3 setup to nullify Chelsea’s switch to 4-4-2.
Final score: Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.
MOTM: Dele Alli.