Chelsea have very much been our bogey team in recent years, with our last win against them coming over four years ago (on 8th January 2019 in the league cup semi-final first leg).
Our last Premier League triumph over them was back in November 2018, in the days when we called Wembley our home (myfootballfacts).
It is time for that to change, and I cannot remember feeling more confident going into a game against them than I do for the game on Sunday.
They are in abysmal form at the moment, with their last win in any competition coming over a month ago. We looked very good in the second half of the game against West Ham, and hopefully, we can take that confidence into the game this weekend and put the pressure on Chelsea.
Shutting down Chelsea’s build-up play – the press:
I watched Chelsea play Southampton at the weekend, and there were two clear areas targeted by Southampton, with great success.
The first one came from the realisation that when Chelsea play out from the back, they like to build with width and use their fullbacks.
Southampton’s response was to use Armstrong and Elyounoussi as wide midfielders in a 4-4-2 (WhoScored). Southampton allowed Chilwell and Azpilicueta to get the ball, but as soon as they did this triggered the Saints press.
They gained advantages with this play and on many occasions forced a throw-in or they managed to turn over possession due to the aggressive shutting down of the full-backs, exploiting their weaknesses on the ball.
I would focus in particular on our right-hand side of the pitch as it is likely that Reece James will come back in for Azpilicueta and he is a lot better on the ball and harder to put under pressure.
Whoever plays left back for Chelsea at the weekend, whether it be Cucurella or Chilwell, is low on confidence and beating the press is not a strength in either player’s game.
I expect it will be Emerson who starts at right wing-back for us and he will have the main job in this press. This means he must push higher up the pitch and be aggressive, not allowing an easy pass down the line, and forcing the defender to turn backwards or play a wasteful pass.
This should be the trigger for the rest of the team to push higher and be aggressive, it is always important to press as a team.
We should get joy from this tactic, especially as Chelsea are now low on confidence and prone to errors when playing out, with their players still adapting to new formations and patterns of play.
If we sit off and allow Chelsea space we could have some real problems, as players like Enzo Fernandez and Kovacic thrive with time on the ball.
They also have quality crossers of the ball in Reece James and Chilwell, and sitting off would mean Chelsea can build out wide, so we must be smart with how we set up.
I think Chelsea will start cautiously considering the fact we are playing at home, but if Tottenham start slowly (which we tend to do this season) and allow Chelsea time on the ball we could allow their confidence to grow and then be in for a tough afternoon.
It is our game to lose so we must take the initiative and be proactive rather than passive. Over to you Stellini…
Nullifying the threat of Joao Felix:
Joao Felix has been Chelsea’s brightest spark in recent games and, in my opinion, he is their only really creative outlet in the final third of the pitch.
Mount has been miles off the pace all season and Chelsea’s wide men are also failing to have an impact on games, so a lot of pressure has been put on Felix to create. Whilst he has not set the world alight, he has certainly looked dangerous, scoring a great goal against West Ham recently to add to this threat.
He likes to operate in the space between the midfield and defence and is at his most dangerous when receiving the ball on the half turn and facing up centre-halves.
If he is allowed to operate in this fashion then he could cause us some serious problems as Eric Dier is not the most mobile and does not like players running at him.
There are two ways to combat this and make Felix’s role a lot tougher. One would be to play Skipp and give him a man-marking role on Felix, as Skippy gets around the pitch so well and wouldn’t give his opponent any time on the ball.
The other would be to use a similar tactic to the one used against City, pushing Eric Dier out of defence and getting him to come short with Felix, again to reduce the time Felix is afforded on the ball, reducing his opportunities to turn and face.
Either of these needs to happen although it could be a mix of the two that ultimately helps to reduce the influence Felix has on the game.
Chelsea’s keeper issues:
Whilst Kepa is much improved on the raw talent we saw when Chelsea signed him, he is still not a top-level goalkeeper and testing him early on will be key.
He is not strong in the air and tends to stick to his line when crosses come in from set pieces – which has led to Chelsea conceding seven goals from set pieces this season, more than any other top-half side. (TheAnalyst).
We must look to exploit this by crossing the ball on top of Kepa, forcing him to make a decision and hopefully leading to a mistake. Crowding around him, as many teams do to Lloris, would lead to a dangerous situation and should be uppermost in our minds on Sunday.
Come game day we will see whether this Tottenham team have what it takes to put Chelsea to the sword and take advantage of a team that is lacking in cohesion, confidence and desire.
The crowd will be buoyed by the win against West Ham last weekend where there was plenty of noise, and the players must respond to this and win their duels early on, playing aggressively.
I feel that this game is built for Romero and Holjberg and they can lead the team into battle. Forster will need to be concentrated and commanding as Chelsea are always looking for chance creations.
Emerson Royal has scored more goals (2) than Chelsea (1) in the past month. That really sums up how bad a patch Chelsea are going through.
Let’s hope for another worthy performance from the Brazilian on Sunday!
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