Chelsea are on fire and Spurs are desperate to get back to winning ways so this Sunday’s London Derby should be a cracker! The Undrafted team look ahea to assess how each team could exert there influence on the match. Can Spurs surprise or will the Chelsea juggernaut continue?
How Spurs could set themselves up to frustrate Chelsea – Matt Stan
Chelsea are a juggernaut this season, 4th in xG from Open Play, 2nd in goals from set pieces, 3rd in terms of sequences of attacking pressure. These statistics alone outline the task faced by Tottenham as they go to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Task One: Stopping Chelsea from playing their natural game
Chelsea have built their play around a system where fullbacks pressure the midfield, thus allowing more freedom for forward movement from the centre. Marcos Alonso and Reece James have contributed in different ways. Alonso progressing forward before laying the ball to an attacker in space, James with a more direct role in assisting chances. Mason Mount in particular has benefitted from this approach, with a high proportion of carries, and chances created as a result.
To counteract this, I propose that Tottenham mirror Chelsea’s shape, switching to a back-three and pushing Emerson and Reguillon forward to occupy space and force the fullbacks into a more defensive mindset. This allows Hojbjerg to return to the centre of midfield from his right-sided role (more on this here), and dominate the space in the middle occupied to great effect by Kovacic against Aston Villa. Skipps and Hojbjerg also act as a first line of defence where Mount and Havertz are released by others.
The switch to a back three allows Spurs to match the Chelsea front line man-for-man. Romero kept Lukaku quiet in both league games against him last season, putting in a man-of-the-match performances in Atalanta’s home game. It’s for this reason that I trust him at the heart of defence for this key game. Sanchez and Rodon outside of him have the speed and skills to reduce the number of shots the Blues are able to get on target. I hear a lot about the inexperience of Rodon, however, I feel people don’t recognise his games at international level where he has 18 caps, including playing every minute of Wales’ games at Euro 2020.
Task Two: Opening up the opposition
Task One gives Tottenham a platform, and I’m working on the basis that this game doesn’t get won in the first 60 minutes. Without a creative midfield presence, Tottenham are limited in attack. I’d be concerned about this in a normal game, but the only way I see Tottenham getting a result here is by keeping it tight. Tottenham’s options are greatly limitedly injury here. Son is unlikely to recover in time. Bergwijn has been a revelation this season, his work occupying defenders and winning the ball deep in opposition half would be central to my gameplan, however he is out for this one, Moura too. Looking through the threadbare squad Alli is best placed to perform this role. On the left, it’s time to trust Bryan Gil, allowing to run at defenders create space and feed Kane in the middle. There is potential on the left to allow Reguillon to overlap as an attacking outlet. I’m not confident in Gil’s defensive coverage just yet however, and this is something that should be closely monitored.
After keeping the game tight, and assuming Tottenham aren’t winning by this point, I’d introduce Ndombele and Lo Celso to provide some more cohesive forward pressure, Lo Celso would replace Gil or Rodon dependent on score and performance, if Rodon then Emerson and Reguillon would return to more traditional roles. Skipps for Ndombele would be straight swap,
In summary, my team is outlined below:
Chelsea In Fine Form – Antonio Ierubino
I wouldn’t want to be Tottenham fan at the best of times, but especially not this Sunday. They are coming up against an inform Chelsea team who have started the season with renewed purpose off the back of their Champions League triumph. The start of the season fixtures were unkind to Chelsea, so to be sitting pretty in 2nd place after 4 tough games, including away trips to Arsenal and Liverpool (where they played for 45 mins with 10 men as Liverpool attacked the Kop end) proves they really are genuine title contenders.
Unlike his predecessor, Thomas Tuchel seems to know his best 11 for these big games. Leaning on the experience of Thiago Silva in defence, the energy of N’Golo Kanté in the midfield and generational talent Kai Havertz in attack. Since Tuchel took over Chelsea have only lost one of their 15 away games in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in 4 of them – a sign of the task ahead for Nuno’s men.
Can Chelsea capitalise on potential Spurs Absentees?
Nuno Santo goes into Sunday’s fixture sweating on the potential fitness of key players, plus question marks on whether his South American adventurers are going to be ready to play. This is not ideal preparation for a London derby of this magnitude.
Giovanni Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez have all stopped off in Croatia to avoid quarantining upon their return to the UK. The three of them are set to land in London on Saturday night. Will they be ready in under 24 hours to play Chelsea from a tactical viewpoint? That’s why managers get paid the big bucks.
To add to Nuno’s problems, Bergwijn and Moura hobbled off in Spur’s Europa Conference League draw at Rennes and doubts remain over whether Son (calf) and Dier (dead leg) can recover in time for Sunday’s game. This leaves Spurs in a bit of an injury crisis. One man who is definitely going to miss out is Japhet Tanganga following his red card against Crystal Palace.
Tottenham’s attack will look rather toothless again without Son. I’d argue he is their most important player in the attacking phase with his direct and dynamic off the ball runs. Kane never looks the same player when Son is not in the team. This showed in the last game vs Crystal Palace, Son did not play and Kane was therefore suffocated and bullied in attack, having zero touches or shots in the opposition box.
Chelsea will be praying they can capitalise on what looks like a weakened Spurs team. But one things for sure they’ll need to play better than they did against Zenit St Petersburg in their midweek Champions League tie.
Prediction for the game: Chelsea to win 2 -0, Lukaku to score first. You heard it here first.
Keep up with all the latest opinion from Undrafted at our Facebook page!
Return to the homepage by clicking here.