Paul Merson raises certain question marks over Tottenham ahead of Chelsea clash

Image: SpursWeb

Paul Merson has claimed that Tottenham are being given more credit than they deserve for their 2-0 win over Manchester City last Saturday with the game followed a predictable pattern.

As expected, Spurs were happy to let Pep Guardiola’s side dominate possession and territory but they remained resolute at the back and hit them on the counter attack.

Merson claimed that the same approach will not always work for the Lilywhites.

He told Sky Sports: “Looking back at Spurs vs Man City, I knew what the game was going to be like before we started.

“Tottenham sit back, put 10 behind the ball, Man City attack and Spurs counter-attack, and City cannot really defend. That is what happened.

“We are going mad, raving about a team that had 33 per cent of the ball. We are raving about them.

“Do not get me wrong, it was a good result, but they have a hard fixture list coming up. You would not look at that result and say they wiped the floor with Man City, or that it was amazing.

“I think up to Christmas they have some big, big games. When other teams do what Spurs did to Man City, will Spurs be able to break them down? It took them a long, long time to break West Brom down.”

The pundit claimed that Mourinho will have to modify his tactics if Tottenham are going to challenge for the title or they could otherwise have difficulties breaking down opposition who sit back and defend in a low block.

Merson told Sky Sports: “You do not want to be playing good teams and always let them have 70 per cent of the ball, and expect it to work every time. That does not happen often.

“Leicester happened once in a lifetime. You cannot work off that template.

“I think all of them have bought into Jose’s work, and they are a threat. But it’s when other teams play counter-attacking football on Spurs, will they be able to break them down?

“I am not ruling Spurs out, but there is a question mark on the other side of the game. They struggled against West Brom, but they won, and I think it was their biggest result of the season so far.

“It’s those games where you have to rally yourselves when it’s the other side’s cup final. They are going to work 25 times harder against you.”

The former Arsenal man claimed that it could backfire for Tottenham if they set up against Chelsea the same way they did against City.

He suggested it will be a great result for Jose Mourinho’s men if they come away with a point from Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon at a ground where they have historically struggled in the Premier League era.

He added: “If you sit back against this Chelsea team and give them 65 per cent of the ball? Are you going to be able to keep them out for that long? At the moment they have more firepower than Man City.

“This team has goals, and makes runs. This is a big, big football match.

“People will say there’s a long way to go, but you need the points. These games give you an extra six or seven points because they keep your momentum rolling, they are big for confidence.

“It’s a massive game. Believe me, these games make a difference over the course of a season. If Chelsea lose, you then ask whether you can win a title losing to Liverpool and Spurs at home?

“For Chelsea, you do not just want to become a flat-track bully. These are the big boy games.

“Tottenham can draw this game – it’s a great result for them. It’s more important for Chelsea to win, and important for Spurs just not to lose it. It’s never too early for these big games.”

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