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Chelsea-Tottenham: Tottenham's midfield overrun, Adebayor shines

Updated on July 28, 2013

The starting line-ups

The formations

Both sides lined up in a 4-2-3-1.

Both teams had two midfielders sitting in front of defense. For Chelsea, David Luiz was given the task to play deeper and pick up any Tottenham players roaming into the space between midfield and defense, while Ramires had a more free role, and he was able to join the attacks. For Tottenham, Huddlestone sat deeper, while Parker played further up the pitch.

Andre Villas-Boas decided to start with Adebayor as the lone striker. The Togo international had one of his best games of the season. He scored a magnificent goal, and assisted his team's second.

Movement before the first Chelsea goal

Chelsea attackers are interchanging their positions, and Ramires joins the attack in the second wave. Tottenham's defenders and deep midfielders are unable to cope with the pace. Huddlestone brings down Hazard. Chelsea go on to win a corner and score
Chelsea attackers are interchanging their positions, and Ramires joins the attack in the second wave. Tottenham's defenders and deep midfielders are unable to cope with the pace. Huddlestone brings down Hazard. Chelsea go on to win a corner and score

Similar formations, very different ways of attacking

Although both teams played in a 4-2-3-1 formation on paper, their respective approaches to attacking couldn't have been different. Chelsea's front four was trying to run, and change their positions as much as possible, with Ramires joining the attacks from midfield. Mata often came into the middle from the right, where Oscar took his place. Hazard was just as keen to move to the middle whenever possible. Tottenham were unable to deal with their opponent's movement. Hazard was able to flurish on the left as Lennon didn't offer much defensively. When in the middle, Hazard had to face Parker or Huddleston, who are both easy to beat with pace.

On the other hand, Tottenham have struggled to put any kind of pressure on Chelsea. The home team defended zonally, leaving very little space between midfield and defense. Bale often moved to the middle from the left, which restricted the movement of Lewis Holtby. Also, whenever Assou-Ekotto tried to attack, he had no support in wide areas, and often ended up playing a short pass to one of the central midfielders or defenders. On the right side, Aaron Lennon had a poor game and offered almost no threat. In the middle, Torres took his part in defending, as he hustled Huddlestone or Parker whenever either of them had the ball. This was particularly frustrating for Parker as he was disposessed far too many times. He usually received the ball with his back to goal. He is not brilliant on the ball like Dembele-who is able to dribble his way out of trouble- and whenever multiple Chelsea players closed him down, he was caught on the ball and disposessed. Again, it is no surprise that Tottenham won only one game when Dembele was not playing.

Tottenham equalise, but Ramires' running pays off

Given how Tottenham was unable to break down Chelsea's defending from regular play, it is no surprise that Tottenham equalised from a counter attack. Adebayor had one of his best matches of the season, and fired a well-placed curler into the top corner.

Tottenham's problems in midfield became more apparent when Chelsea scored their second goal. Scott Parker failed to track Ramires' run from midfield. He was picked out brilliantly by Torres, who was not pressured hard enough by Huddlestone. It is important to note, that Assou-Ekotto was out of position, and beaten by Oscar on the right wing. Just like before the first goal, Tottenham were unable to deal with multiple Chelsea players running into space, and Ramires joining the attack from a deep position.

Ramires could have added a second goal to his name in the 61th minute. Chelsea counter attacked after a Tottenham corner. Hazard put Mata through, who waited for Ramires to arrive, but when the Brazilian received the ball one-on-one with Lloris, he slipped. Again, no-one was tracking back with Ramires. His runs could have won the match for Chelsea.

Ramires scores Chelsea's second goal thanks to pace and great movement. Note that Mata's run is unchecked, he has a lot of space in front of him.
Ramires scores Chelsea's second goal thanks to pace and great movement. Note that Mata's run is unchecked, he has a lot of space in front of him.

AVB's substitutions change the game

Right after this moment, AVB substituted the ineffective Lennon with Sigurdsson. Bale moved to the right, Sigurdsson to the left, Holtby stayed in the middle. After ten minutes, Holtby was taken off, and Dempsey was introduced.

These substitutions changed the game. Sigurdsson and Bale often came towards the middle. The increased movement up front allowed Spurs to keep the ball better. This type of movement was hard for the Chelsea defenders to track, and they were pulled out of position as a result. Tottenham enjoyed more success in the final third as time went on. Finally, Assou-Ekotto and Walker were able to join the attacks. Tottenham benefited a lot from their full back's forward runs, and Huddlestone's quick diagonals to them.

Tottenham's equaliser came in similar circumstances. With ten minutes to go, Tom Huddlestone played an accurate diagonal pass to Assou-Ekotto, who had space in front of him on the left wing. After a few passes, he gave the ball to Adebayor, who backheeled it to the unmarked Sigurdsson. The Icelandic player fired a powerful shot past Cech.

The reason why Sigurdsson was unmarked is that David Luiz failed to pick him up. He was wandering out of his zone, wider than he should have been. This demonstrates how easy it is to make a mistake with your positioning when the ball changes it's place quickly, and the defending team has to constantly adjust its shape.



Tottenham's attacks after the substitutions

The increased movement of the Tottenham attackers created much needed free areas for the players to operate in. Tottenham's width meant that Chelsea's zonal defending was less effective.
The increased movement of the Tottenham attackers created much needed free areas for the players to operate in. Tottenham's width meant that Chelsea's zonal defending was less effective.

Conclusion

This match was an interesting tactical battle. In the beginning, Rafa Benitez's Chelsea had the better of AVB's Tottenham. The Spanish manager sent out his team well prepared, and with an excellent game plan. However, AVB identfied how his team can get back into the game, and changed Tottenham's attack successfully. As a result, they were able to get a point late on.


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