Chelsea have an incredibly good record against Spurs. The West London club historically dominate meetings between the two clubs. But, on New Years Day they went to White Hart Lane, took the lead, only to be smashed 5-3. The game was close in terms of possession and chances, but Spurs were a constant threat and made Chelsea’s defence look incredibly vulnerable.
This was in spite of the fact that Chelsea beat Spurs 3-0 at home in the reverse fixture. That game could have gone down a similar route in some respects. Chelsea quelled an early Spurs tide and came out unscathed and then ruthlessly punished their rivals to win 3-0 in a scoreline that was probably a bit flattering.
Many Chelsea fans on Twitter are not hugely confident about Sunday’s game as a result of this. The main reason being that Spurs seem like a side whose strengths are built to exploit Chelsea’s clear vulnerabilities. Chelsea’s back four for example is very immobile and slow, this is something that was made glaringly obvious against Spurs.
One-on-one Gary Cahill is too slow for Harry Kane. Kane had a field day against him as a result, beating him easily for his second goal. He also gave away the penalty because of his lack of pace. The Danny Rose goal showed this too as Chelsea lost it high up and then were split open because Nacer Chadli raced in behind Bransilav Ivanovic who could not keep up, leaving a one-on-one. Chadli missed and Rose followed it up.
If Chelsea lose the ball high up the field they are in trouble. In a 4-2-3-1 with Cesc Fabregas as one of the ‘2’ it can become a 4-1-4-1 which leaves one player as a sole screen. On Sunday Nemanja Matic, arguably Chelsea’s most important player, is out with a suspension, this means that we could have Ramires doing the job. Ramires is not a natural defensive midfielder but more of a box-to-box style player.
It’s a concern because Spurs’ midfield press and look to win the ball in the very areas that Chelsea don’t want to lose it. They also then run at the opposition, which can leave Chelsea flat-footed. The solution for Chelsea, in the absence of Matic and with John Obi Mikel injured, is to simply ensure that there are enough bodies back and that the back four is not pushed too high up the field. The last thing Chelsea want is Spurs sliding Harry Kane in behind John Terry.
Chelsea are oddly in a position where they are the better/more established side but are very vulnerable to Spurs’ attacks. Jose Mourinho will surely be aware of this though and look to tweak his tactics to allow for more solidity in the midfield and less exposure of his back four.