Chelsea 3 Spurs 0: inside channels and counter attacks

The score may have been one-sided with it finishing Chelsea 3 Spurs 0 but there were plenty of positives in our performance at Stamford Bridge.

We controlled possession of the ball, but the direction and flow of the match was more often in Chelsea’s hands. The way in which the Blues set-up dictated how the game was going to be played after a bright opening, which we failed to capitalise on.

Getting beyond the full backs

The first 15 minutes saw us start the game extremely well, taking the play to Chelsea, who were forced back by us getting in-behind in wide areas. The Blues were often pinching their full backs in so as to make themselves narrow, which has been the way to defend against our lack of width.

It all started when Harry Kane was able to drive past Branislav Ivanovic, causing the Serbian international to bring him down near the by-line. Erik Lamela curled in the free kick, but it went right through the penalty area to Vlad Chiriches on the opposite side. With Chelsea pinching everyone in to deal with the dead ball, Chiriches had time to pick out a cross that Jan Vertonghen headed over.

Next Aaron Lennon was able to take advantage of left back Cesar Azpilicueta pinching in to curl in an inviting cross for Harry Kane. His header bounced agonisingly back off the bar as we continued to push for an early strike.


Lennon gets beyond Azpilicueta pinching in.

Then, Ivanovic was once more caught trying to press up the field as he pushed up on Christian Eriksen. The ball was lofted over his head for Harry Kane to run in-behind down the line. Gary Cahill beat Kane in a foot race, but then miss-controlled the ball, allowing the youngster to jet in-behind.

Kane raced away, but with little in the area by way of support, he had no option but to shoot and fired an effort across the face of goal. Lamela had tried to get up with him, but was bundled over by Azpilicueta at a crucial moment.

Spurs were really giving Chelsea problems, but the Blues came back in to the match and took the lead by doing two things.

The first was to switch the ball often across the pitch to navigate our pressing. The second was to get their good passing players – Oscar, Fabregas and Hazard – between the lines to do their damage.

Chelsea between the lines and channels

Chelsea are a through ball and pull back team when it comes to creating chances. They have a powerful centre forward – Costa, Remy or Drogba – and a plethora of playmakers that are good, neat passers in tight situations that can also dribble.

After an excellent opening 15 minutes, the Blues came back in to the game as they started to get men between the lines to work off the centre forward. First of all it was Fabregas who drifted in unmarked and saw his tame curling effort saved, but the clue was there.

Next it was Hazard who moved in to the space. The ball, as it previously had been, was switched all the way across from the opposite flank to him to navigate our pressure. Hazard found himself free between the lines as Chiriches had pinched in to mark Drogba and Lennon was too high.


Hazard in space between the lines.

We’d looked in the Tottenham tactics at Chelsea’s chance creation from short through balls and neat one-twos through the inside channels and that was how they set us up here.

Hazard passed the ball in to Drogba, who had pinned Fazio behind him, and burst through the inside channel between Lennon and Chiriches. Both players were caught on their heals as the Belgian received the return ball back and rifled a shot in off the underside of Hugo Lloris’ arm. It was a classic Chelsea give and go from a through ball goal that Mourinho coaches.

With the Blues now controlling the direction of the game, we gifted them a second. Once more Chelsea had men between the lines after the turnover and it came from a through ball, but this time for a straight shot at goal.

Hugo Lloris miss-hit his clearance straight to Eden Hazard who was in oceans of space and able to play it straight to Oscar who was between the lines. With Chelsea having an overload through our inside left channel, he picked out Drogba, who this time held off Jan Vertonghen and slotted home the second.


Oscar between the lines and Drogba/Willian overload.

Chelsea were now thoroughly in control of the match after two defensive lapses, something Hugo Lloris had warned about prior to the game.

After looking good going forward, errors were being made at the back. They continued to come as Vlad Chiriches gave the ball straight to Eden Hazard by the corner flag. The Belgian cut it back to Willian and fortunately his tame shot was saved.

Second half control

The first half had seen us control the possession, but Chelsea were in charge of the direction of the game after going in front. The second half saw the Blues come out, sit back and play on the counter attack.

This gave us have large amounts of the ball, but in relatively trouble free areas. Chelsea stayed narrow and compact, which saw a lot of sideways movement of the ball and a number of chipped passes over what was a packed central area of defence.


Chelsea play narrow as we have too many in the centre.

Clear-cut chances were not to be had despite Mauricio Pochettino trying to introduce more players that want to get in the box in Paulinho and Roberto Soldado.

The game was slightly in the balance as we were pushing to halve the deficit. But as Soldado waited to come on, Chelsea broke away to finish the contest.

Once more it was from a through ball, but this time it was for Loic Remy to run on to. With Chelsea sinking increasingly deeper, Jose Mourinho introduced the Frenchman to get some run-in behind speed on the field, as our defence was pushing higher.

Our back four was all over the place as Fazio was caught up squeezing the ball on the sideline, trying to outnumber Chelsea here. This left Remy to beat Vertonghen in a foot race and then outmuscle him with only Ben Davies as cover. The game was up.


Remy runs on to the through ball

Chelsea 3 Spurs 0 overall

The score line was one-sided but there were plenty of positives.

We opened the game well and more clinical finishing could’ve seen a different flow to the match.

Nabil Bentaleb was very good in midfield, getting on the ball and trying to dictate the pace and tempo.

Harry Kane was once more a pest up front. His closing down, as well as runs with the ball directly at their defence, gave Chelsea problems. Nemanja Matic’s yellow card was a direct result of them struggling to contain his burst with the ball.

The problems came at the back and Mauricio Pochettino was quick to acknowledge the ‘mistakes’ but also that ‘we take plenty of positives away.’

We did control much of the possession in the match, but Chelsea managed the game much better than us, as their experience told. After several weeks of the players not appearing to be getting Pochettino’s message, our last two displays have shown positive signs of improvement.

Final score: Chelsea 3 Spurs 0.

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5 Responses to Chelsea 3 Spurs 0: inside channels and counter attacks

  1. Greeno 4th December 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Positives for about 20 mins when we imposed ourselves with 2 off target chances. Then we gift our customary goal to the opposition and then fall apart and gift another 2 mins later.
    Chelsea never really broke sweat for the entire 90. As comfortable a game for them as they’ll have all season.
    We’re still weak defensively. I struggled to see how chiriches even made it as a pro and Jan was muscled off the ball fear too easily for the 2nd and 3rd goals.
    I’d just like, for once, to see some fighting spirit when we play the top teams, an early goal and a fully committed defensive display or at least a battling draw. All we get now is a early goal against and a capitulation

  2. brian 4th December 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I think your summing up on the tactical side of things,are preety much spot(Do’nt get a big head though).Our right side defensively to me,seem to be our weakness,thats not to say that we were perfect on the left.But Chriches was exposed for lack of pace.,on anumber of occaisions.But there was much to be positive about,the team and their performance.It will interesting now to see if we progress that bit nmore against Palace,on the week-end.Or will it be anather false dawn.That said,i hope we give Pochi more time,then previous managers.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2014 at 11:39 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words Brian, they haven’t gone to my head, but warm my heart :) Vlad didn’t look too comfortable against Eden Hazard, but he’s made more permanent right backs look average. His errors were often of his own making which was the bigger concern from just taking daft risks. Hoping for a better result against Palace.

  3. Sam Abe 5th December 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    I think this is the first time I’ve been convinced by Bentaleb – I thought he was excellent. As was Kane. Fazio and Davies played well, too. But Vertonghen’s limits were fully exposed by Remy. And no more of that nonsense please, Lloris.

    But in truth Chelsea are way ahead of us, so much so that I couldn’t even get worked up about losing this game by three goals. I’m much more interested in how we get on against the rest of the league – I’m still concerned that we will struggle to breakdown teams who sit back at WHL, though (which Everton didn’t do, thankfully).

    I also think Chadli has to start (fair enough, he’s been injured), and suspect that, with Lennon showing he can still perform (despite his crucial lapse in this match), and with the option of playing two up-front, Pochettino is on the cusp of giving Lamela a lengthy spell on the bench.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      Hopefully we’ll return to Kane and Soldado playing together against Palace, has the hint of a good partnership forming.