Tottenham’s recent games reveal key weaknesses Chelsea can target. If the Blues can deny Tottenham any penalty kicks, the Spurs have little else to threaten.
Chelsea has all the momentum going into Saturday’s derby. Chelsea are on a six-game winning streak in which they have conceded zero goals and only one shot on target. Tottenham, despite having not lost this season, have won only two of their last six in the Premier League. On Tuesday, they whimpered out of the Champions League group stages with a 2-1 loss at Monaco.
Obviously, Antonio Conte will not allow any amount of history – even Chelsea’s 26-year home undefeated streak against Tottenham – to instill complacency in his players or staff. Tottenham’s more recent history provide a good look at how Chelsea can tear apart the arhythmic Spurs.
Tottenham eked out a 3-2 win over West Ham last Saturday. Fortune favored the not-so-bold, as Harry Kane netted two goals two minutes part at the death to give Spurs the win.
Vincent Janssen was Tottenham’s nominal striker, but apparently no one informed the rest of the squad. Janssen received 11 passes. He made only five, three of which were in the middle third of the pitch. By comparison, Diego Costa received 48 passes and completed 32/41 against Middlesbrough.
Harry Kane – whom Mauricio Pochettino describes as “one of the best strikers in the world” – received the ball only 21 times, and won two take-ons. Christian Eriksen was Tottenham’s focal point, collecting 52 passes and completing 40/57. Meanwhile, against Boro, Eden Hazard completed 55 passes, received 68 and won 7 of 8 take-ons.
Against Monaco in the Champions League, Mauricio Pochettino rested Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker. Without Vertonghen, Tottenham’s passing out of the back diminished greatly. Vertonghen’s replacement, Kevin Wimmer, did not feed Danny Rose nearly as much. Not only did this limit Tottenham’s play out, but reduced their width on the pitch. Vertonghen will return against Chelsea, but Rose will not.
On the other side of the pitch, Eric Dier – when he was not gifting Monaco penalty kicks – took over more of the play. He kept Kieran Tripier well-served, but that ended up being a dead end. Trippier was not able to pivot the attack up-field.
More importantly, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min were only slightly less isolated than Vincent Janssen was against West Ham. Dele Alli roamed as a No. 10, but could not link up with either his midfielders or strikers to create offensive chances.
Tottenham appears quite capable of severing their strikers from the rest of their squad with little further help from Chelsea’s backline. David Luiz will be crucial to keep those few balls from finding their way to Son or Kane. His positional sense and ability to read the game – i.e., his self-control to not go on a jaunt across midfield – will give Harry Kane plenty of time to chat with Thibaut Courtois while they both watch the play develop 60 yards away in the other direction.
More from Chelsea FC News
- Bournemouth vs Chelsea: 1 Blue Mauricio Pochettino should drop
- Bournemouth vs Chelsea: 3 Blues who must start
- Predicted Chelsea lineup vs Bournemouth: Palmer starts in 4-2-3-1
- Chelsea sporting directors finally reveal why they sign so many young players
- These 3 new signings may never get a game at Chelsea
Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso and Pedro have given Chelsea the full width of the pitch in the 3-4-3. Chelsea’s wingbacks will outflank Tottenham’s midfielders on both side of the ball. Moses’ overlapping runs around Pedro will deform Tottenham’s narrowed defence, creating more space for Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.
Given Chelsea’s ability to capitalize on Tottenham’s worst inherent tendencies, a Blues victory – particularly a clean-sheet – may come down to discipline. Tottenham are nearly dependent on penalty kicks for points and their (ahem) “invincible” status.
Tottenham’s lone goals against Monaco, Arsenal, Leicester City and Liverpool were penalty kicks. Their winning goal against West Ham was from the spot. The last game where Tottenham scored but did not convert a penalty kick was October 15 against West Bromwich Albion.
Tottenham will likely seek to draw Chelsea into dumb fouls in the hopes of getting a 12-yard look at Thibaut Courtois. Between their expected hacking and their desperation to create on offensive, provoking Diego Costa or luring David Luiz may be their best chance of getting on the score sheet.
That’s kind of funny when you think about it, particularly given Tottenham fans’ conceit over such things. If Chelsea can keep the play pinned inside Tottenham’s half, the risks will take care themselves.
All stats from FourFourTwo’s StatsZone.