Chelsea predicted XI vs Tottenham: 3-4-3 put to the real test

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Leicester City’s Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (R) takes a shot at goal past Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on January 19, 2021. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by RUI VIEIRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Chelsea has picked up four points from six since Thomas Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard. He has also picked up two clean sheets in that time and has conceded only five shots with none on target. Tuchel has switched to a three at the back formation and this switch seems to have solved many problems the Blues were having in recent times.

The Blues have faced a Wolves team that had only picked up four points from 15 and a rather in-form Burnley team that had picked up nine points from 15. Chelsea looked comfortable in both games but only looked sufficiently threatening in the Burnley game.

This is Tuchel’s first London Derby and it would be interesting to see how he handles it. Jose Mourinho will try some mind games, but Tuchel is new enough in the job that it may not take much to win a psychological battle against him. Tuchel is still getting a feel of his players, but he would already know that this is a crucial game, for personal and football reasons. Here’s who we think get the nod against Spurs:

Edouard Mendy, No. 16, Goalkeeper, Senegal

Mendy is gradually getting his confidence back. He has kept two clean sheets in two games under the new manager, albeit without a save to make. The upcoming Spurs game will be a good measure of where he’s really at, then again, it might not be seeing how poor Spurs have been lately in the absence of Harry Kane. A lot of dust was kicked up in the wake of Frank Lampard’s sacking, with many sources claiming the handling of Kepa Arrizabalaga by the old manager was unsatisfactory. If the new manager has been obligated to play the Spanish shot-stopper, he hasn’t obeyed. For now, Mendy is giving Chelsea what they need and he’d likely remain the starting keeper for the foreseeable future.

Kurt Zouma, No. 15, Centerback, France

Zouma has not made an appearance under Tuchel yet, but the German manager has assured his squad that each one of them will get their chance in due time. Zouma’s might not be far away as he could make a starting appearance against Tottenham despite being ruled as “questionable” ahead of the match. He has already kept a clean sheet against Spurs this season. His height and aerial dominance means he would be an asset against a tall Spurs team. Spurs are likely to focus on defending well and therefore Chelsea’s best chances of scoring might come from set pieces. Zouma has scored four league goals this season, all from set pieces.

Thiago Silva, No. 6, Centerback, Brazil

Silva has done himself justice under the new manager and has justified every minute he’s getting so far. Coming off the back of a run of poor results and poor performances, Silva has been key in breaking up play and starting attacks for the Blues. He formed a strong partnership with Zouma in the first half of the season. They were the spine of the team that went on the 17-game unbeaten run, save for a few matches. It is important to note that Silva and the other centerbacks alongside him have benefited from Tuchel’s 3-4-3 formation change, giving him freedom to roam upfield, making tackles and intercepting play, with the knowledge that he has cover. If he continues to play the way he’s been playing in the last two games, Chelsea’s chances of winning are boosted.

Antonio Rudiger ,No. 2, Centerback, Brazil

Rudiger has been solid in the last two games, though he too has benefitted from the formation change. His passing range is good for a side that wants to keep possession of the ball. He’s slightly taller than Zouma, though not as good in the air. He brings a physical advantage to the side, considering that Chelsea face a physical team in Spurs. He also gets into good heading positions on set pieces and that could be key in this type of game.

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