Flooding three players in to aggressive counter attack positions saw a flurry of chances and goals as it finished Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
Mauricio Pochettino deflected all of plaudits towards his players, but there was a ton of excellent scheming by the Spurs manager. Given two weeks to put together a plan during the international break, Pochettino plotted superbly. The result was a plethora of chances and a score of Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea that actually flattered the away team.
Tottenham’s overloading counter attacks
Pochettino’s plan had many sub plots, but the overall objective was to overwhelm Chelsea’s back line by running three players constantly in-behind it.
Spurs operated from a 4-3-2-1 setup that saw Dele Alli almost man-marking Jorginho to stop him dictating the pace of the game. Around Dele, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen took care of N’Golo Kante and Matteo Kovacic.
As a result of Pochettino overrunning the Chelsea midfield by five players to three, Eric Dier and Son Heung-Min were left free. Dier could clean up any loose passes or blown coverages. Son could race out on the counter attack with his direct runs.
The South Korean star could’ve easily netted a hat trick from the chances that he had in this free rampaging role. In spite of the near misses from his directness on the counter attack, Son did eventually get his goal. He showed great resilience to keep plugging away and making the runs even though he saw his efforts thwarted by Kepa Arrizabalaga or fractionally miss the target.
Another sub plot was Tottenham attacking the space beyond Marcus Alonso. Some of our post game chats from Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham centred on this topic. Chelsea have been very strong down this flank with Alonso and Hazard this season, but it has also been their defensive weakness. Spurs took advantage to net two goals.
The plan to attack Marcus Alonso started from the off. Spurs not only deployed the Kane, Dele and Son trio to stop Chelsea playing out from the goalkeeper, but also used Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko to attack the Chelsea left back.
Two early corners were the early outcome of the plan, but also a Harry Kane header from Serge Aurier’s cross.
Spurs were then 1-0 up within just seven minutes as we sought to attack the space behind Alonso once more. Serge Aurier played Harry Kane in-behind the Chelsea left back. David Luiz was pulled out from the centre and fouled Kane as a result.
Christian Eriksen delivered a wickedly curling cross in to the Chelsea six-yard box. Dele Easily lost his marker, Matteo Kovacic, and glanced his header home. He wheeled away in celebration as Chelsea probably wondered why Kovacic was detailed to mark the player who loves a headed goal against them.
Dele and Jorginho
A further sub plot was Dele Alli detailed to effectively man-mark Jorginho.
Dele isn’t the first player that would spring to mind to shadow an opponent. However, he was highly effective a covered a ton of ground to do it. He wasn’t just tasked with rushing and harassing Jorginho, but also being involved in our counter attacks. Dele not only got the ball moving from deeper positions, but also arrived late in to the box to get on the end of chances.
Jorginho was knocked out of his stride by Tottenham’s tactics. However, Chelsea’s deep-lying playmaker wasn’t good when out of possession.
Jorginho wasn’t helped by the play of N’Golo Kante and Matteo Kovacic around him. The pair frequently weren’t in defensive position and gifted Spurs space to play around or through Jorginho who was left with large parts of the pitch to cover.
Spurs added a second goal as a result of this. Harry Kane’s opportunistic effort caught Kepa off-guard. However, Jorginho was dragged around and easily navigated in the build-up.
Kane was allowed to move in to the space Jorginho had vacated. Antonio Rudiger was given a decision to make as a result. Rudiger neither went with Kane nor did he track Son’s through run as Spurs sought to jet players in-behind the Chelsea back line once again.
Kane’s shot showed just what a calculated marksman he is. The ability to see the open lane and pass the ball in to the net is one of his most underrated skills. It’s why Kane scores more than his fair share from outside the box. David Luiz turning his back helped, but this was vintage Harry Kane getting back to his lethal best. Spurs two up and cruising.
Perfect Son storm
Spurs had a plan and a number of sub plots. These ploys all perfectly came together as Son finally got on the score sheet.
The lightening quick counter attacks that got beyond Chelsea’s back line were once more in evidence. Son being able to dart forward and use his direct running from his free position was equally prevalent. Furthermore, Spurs attacked the space left by Marcus Alonso’s forward run, which forced Jorginho to cover way to much ground so that he was dragged out of position.
Dele Alli started the counter attack as he had done so many times during the match. On getting the ball, Dele immediately saw the space left by Alonso and sent it in-behind for Son’s run.
Jorginho tried to get out and stop Son, but was no match for the South Korean’s pace. Recognising the mismatch, Son slowed to lure Jorginho in and then sped away to use his superior acceleration. David Luiz wafted a leg and Son blew past him like he wasn’t there to finish. Tottenham 3-0 Chelsea and all of Pochettino’s plans had come to fruition.
Chelsea space out wide
Tottenham’s tactics had centred on rapid counter attacks, but were formed by the five versus three mismatch in the middle. As a result, Chelsea was given space on the flanks when they could move the ball quickly and Spurs’ central numbers couldn’t shift over fast enough.
The issue that Chelsea had was that Alvaro Morata was constantly running offside and ruining a number of crossing opportunities. Even on one where he forced a great reaction save from Hugo Lloris at his near post, he had made his run too early and raised the linesman’s flag.
Maurizio Sarri then withdrew the striker. However, playing an attacking trio of Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro equally meant that they had no target man. Olivier Giroud’s introduction changed that and the visitors gained a consolation.
The build-up saw some smart play by Eden Hazard. Tottenham had shifted the central weight of numbers towards his flank. Hazard’s raking cross-field pass picked out a wide-open Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Chelsea full back took time to take the ball down, but Ben Davies wasn’t quick enough to close and then stood off, allowing the cross to come in.
Oliver Giroud arrived unmarked to nod home. A well-deserved clean sheet was gone with the score at Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea and the disappointment on the face of Hugo Lloris was clear for all to see.
Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea overall
A brilliant tactical game plan from Mauricio Pochettino that was expertly executed by the team.
Our counter attacking game was potent and lethal, stemming from the mass of numbers in central midfield to overwhelm Chelsea’s trio. Dele’s marking job on Jorginho not only hindered the Blues’ build-up, but also sprung a number of counter attacks for Son’s direct runs.
Final score: Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea.
MOTM: Dele Alli.