Dele Alli celebrates a goal during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham: moving the goal threats to wide areas

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.

Narrow wingbacks and space for Spurs to roam which is then cut off during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Narrow wingbacks and space for Spurs to roam which is then cut off.

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.

The duo would be responsible for all of Chelsea’s big moments. Their success was in part due to our full backs, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies, being drawn infield by the runs of Willian and Hazard.

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.

Davies drawn by the run of Willain allows Moses to get forward during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Davies drawn by the run of Willain allows Moses to get forward.

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.

As a result, Christian Eriksen and Kieran Trippier had a number of good crossing opportunities. Dele Alli getting a glorious headed chance very wrong inside the six-yard box was the best of them.

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.

Dier in space out wide against the narrow defence during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Dier in space out wide against the narrow defence.

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.

Christian Eriksen unleashes a thunderbolt to score a goal during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Christian Eriksen unleashes a thunderbolt to score.

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.

Eric Dier goes long to find Dele Alli's run from wide during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Eric Dier goes long to find Dele Alli’s run from wide.

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.

Kante caught high and Rudiger drawn out allows Son in-behind to setup Dele Alli's goal during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Kante caught high and Rudiger drawn out allows Son in-behind.

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.

Lamela in the channel between Chelsea centre and full back during Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham.

Lamela in the channel between Chelsea centre and full back.

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.

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13 Responses to Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham: moving the goal threats to wide areas

  1. shuban 4th April 2018 at 1:46 pm #

    A win at the bridge without Toby or Harry (who came on to work off rust it seems), who would have thought it last August. What staggered me were the late changes by Conte almost as if he wants to be fired. We have seen our great Dane belt it but bloody hell. Hopefully Barca never realise they bought the 3rd best attacking hub from the EPL. if not for De Bruyne our Prince of Denmark would be a prime candidate for PFA player of the year. Somehow he has set even higher standards than last season.

    I don’t if you will have the time but would love to read your thought on the development of Davinson Sanchez. Sutton did a really good thing on him for MOTD 2. Just taking the time to have a glance to know where his opponents are is a trait you expect from an older player. Would never say he had Hazard in his pocket but his decision making process is very good for someone so young.

    PS how soon before Lamela and Fabregas end up in duking it out in a cagematch?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th April 2018 at 4:25 pm #

      No Toby or Harry shows how the functioning of the system as a whole is more important than the individuals within it. Yes Harry is world class and Toby is damn good and to have both of them in the team would be great, but Poch’s system is what brings success.

      Conte’s substitutions smacked of someone who was desperate rather than thinking tactically how he could get at our back four.

      Davinson is great and I often have to remind myself that he is just 21 and didn’t even have a Poch pre-season with us. He does have the odd mistake in him where he gets his body position or judgement is wrong, but to be this good at 21 is scary!

      Lamela is great as he brings that someone with a bit of nasty to the team. Every successful team has one, ruffling the opposition feathers and not afraid to get in a few faces. Lamela does need to technically improve in a few areas, and if he developed any kind of right foot his game would open up even more, but his shithousery is fantastic!

      • shuban 4th April 2018 at 10:55 pm #

        Using it to kick Fibreglass doesn’t count I guess?

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th April 2018 at 10:44 am #

          It’s a start.

  2. Pedro 4th April 2018 at 4:59 pm #

    Great analysis as always. I feel Moses gets a lot of stick for the first Spurs goal, however, I think Willian deserves some of the blame. Rather than come inside the pitch to give Moses an easy pass, he sprints forwards, into space, but puts a Spurs player between him and the ball – inviting Moses to attempt a low percentage ball over the top. Not a clever thing to do at 1-nil up with seconds to go until the end of the half. I wonder if coaches look at these sorts of things when analysing errors as none of the analysts seemed to put any blame on Willian at all. Alternatively I wonder if international footballers are just expected to be able to pull off these sorts of passes. Had Willian been able to rein in his attacking instincts I feel that Moses would have either made the easy pass inside or just blasted it out for a throw in.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th April 2018 at 5:30 pm #

      Good pressure by Davies and Eriksen to force the error by limiting Moses’ options. Tempt him in to a much harder pass than is necessary.

    • Zaph Mann 5th April 2018 at 7:33 am #

      Stretching that point a bit I feel. Conversely, it was William’s deliberate run infield (which Davies tracked) that left Moses free for the Chelsea goal.

      What’s stunning about this Spurs team is that players who do not seem exceptional are very confident on the ball – some (Dier/Sanchez/Davies) occasionally give the ball up in dangerous areas – but they also spring very effective attacks – Dier for Alli – was it also Dier for Ericksen’s release of Son? It could have been Sanchez. Point is All of them are coached to make these passes.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th April 2018 at 10:43 am #

        It was Dier for Eriksen’s pass to release Son on the third goal. Yes, everyone knows their role, and everyone else’s should they find themselves in that position, and the pattern of play we are trying to impose. So it makes the functioning of our system seamless.

        • Reinert 6th April 2018 at 8:52 am #

          I was thinking the same thing, all of our players seems to be ‘playing out of position’whenever they find themselves on different places on the pitch, but the last three months or so, they have been doing so with better poise and understanding. I am so impressed, this is the true vision of Pochettino’s system shining through. I guess moat of our young core will be great coaches in 20 years, hehe!

  3. Toby4eva 5th April 2018 at 3:05 pm #

    Nice one Mark.

    That was a Cup final and we were too good for our bogey team – great to put that bloody Bridge “record’ in the same dustbin as St Totterinhgams Day!!

    Without our two best players.

    It is truly astounding what the Gaffer has done for this club.

    Not just the squad.

    Belief indeed.



  4. brian 6th April 2018 at 5:44 am #

    As per usual mark,anather great anylsis.Completely agree with you about our two Full backs in the first half,getting sucked inside.This threat being eliminated in the second half.And us License to threaten then more often.Until we went 3 1 up and were more content to let them have the ball.Of which they done bugger all.The only threat that came from then during this period,was when Sanchez,completely missed theball.Other than that all was good.

  5. Pedro 9th April 2018 at 7:11 am #

    I’d be really interested to get your view, a tactical perspective, as to how Lucas Moura will fit into this team (GKN as well, currently at Burnley but I assume he will be shipped off at the end of the season).

    I would assume Moura signed for spurs to get game time before the World Cup and I’ve been really impressed every time he’s played. I thought he was our best player against Swansea in the FA Cup and his tracking back and tackling was also excellent.

    Is he not playing purely because Lamela/Alli/Son/Eriksen/Kane are simply too good? Or could there be another issue?

    Eg he’s not had a pre-season so hasn’t learnt Poche’s system yet, so Poche doesn’t trust him? Or could there be a deeper reason to it?

    I don’t want to create an issue where there is none, but it does make you wonder how we were able to sign him unless there were some assurances of game time.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th April 2018 at 4:44 pm #

      I have been planning to do a Moura article. At the minute it looks as if he is being slowly introduced. Poch has a history of trusting certain players in big games. With this crucial stretch that we are on, Poch needs 11 on the pitch that he can count on and trust to run the system. Moura hasn’t earnt that trust yet and he also won’t know the system 100% so that’s why we’ve only seen him in cup games. As you say he hasn’t had a preseason and to drop him in now may do more harm than good. I am curious why Poch hasn’t given him garbage time at the end of PL matches to see what he can do, but it doesn’t surprise me as he trusts certain players in these important games.

      I can see why Poch hasn’t given him anything more than cup games, and it’ll be interesting to see if he starts the semi-final after having played in previous rounds, but the question is how does this affect Moura and if he sees his decision to come to Spurs as the right one? If he doesn’t make the Brazil World Cup squad then maybe he has second thoughts oer his decision to come here…