Tottenham v Chelsea: Tottenham's weakness - the holding two midfielders.
It's clear and has been for a couple of seasons now. Tottenham's main weakness is in the ...
It's clear and has been for a couple of seasons now. Tottenham's main weakness is in the middle of their midfield and under Andre Villas-Boas, it's even more obvious.
As their formation has evolved into a similar 4-2-3-1 formation to Chelsea, the problem has become even more apparent and that's the gap between their back four and holding midfield two.
A couple of seasons ago as we prepared to take on Tottenham in the FA Cup Semi at Wembley, I sat and watched through some of their previous games and highlighted the fact that Scott Parker became isolated in the midfield.
Parker as we all know is one of the busiest midfielders in the league and is always buzzing around that area making tackles, hassling opponents to win the ball back etc. Apart from Parker, there was no other defensive midfielder in there next to him. As a result, when he stepped forward to make a challenge, there was no cover next to him and space opened up.
On that day, Chelsea exposed the problem and we won the game easily!
Let me start by saying tomorrow is a different game in a different time and will be much more difficult than it was that day. Scott Parker is no longer there and Sandro has stepped up as a natural replacement.
I think he is a player who is getting better and better but questions remain over his selection tomorrow. In their last game in the Premier League at Cardiff, the Tottenham holding two that started were Paulinho and Dembele - hardly defensive minded are they?
Even if Sandro comes in and plays in there, Tottenham still have the same old problem and that's the gap that opens up between those two players and their back four as a game progresses.
They may start compact and tight to prevent any of our attacking three playing in between the lines, but as I said, this opens up especially if Paulinho plays as he is more of a box to box / attacking midfielder than defensively minded.
If Paulinho pushes forward he leaves Dembele or whoever plays next to him exposed and that's where the space opens up. As that happens, the back four see the danger and more often than not drop off deeper into their own half until they are more or less on the edge of their box.
Dembele is the weak link in the middle. A creative midfielder who is being asked to play a defensive role which isn't his natural game. He can be caught out of position and also gets caught ball watching.
Tottenham have been caught out a few times already in this area but have got away with it more often than not. Chelsea must use the ball quickly and we have to be clever.
The space WILL open up in the game and if we can rotate the ball forward and find players in that space, we can hurt Tottenham and force them on the back foot.
As a result, any late run from deep should be able to find space in and around the edge of the Tottenham box for any knock downs or pull backs and will more often than not, find themselves unmarked.
One thing Chelsea must do though is get to the byline tomorrow. The likes of Eden Hazard need to pick the ball up in attacking areas and drive towards goal taking their man on. We cannot play one-paced football and keep coming inside as the midfield will remain crowded.
We need plenty of width and pace with the ball. If we have that, we can really cause Tottenham problems all game!
Jose take note!
Carefree & KTBFFH!