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Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur: 3 reasons why Blues recorded statement victory | Premier League 2019-20 

  • Breaking down three reasons behind Chelsea's 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League
Modified 22 Feb 2020, 21:04 IST

Chelsea players celebrate in style as Marcos Alonso plunders the second goal
Chelsea players celebrate in style as Marcos Alonso plunders the second goal

Chelsea headed into this game with just one win in six Premier League games taking on an in-form Tottenham Hotspur. Having kept just one clean sheet since mid-November (against Burnley, 3-0), they entered the London derby without both their top scorers in the starting XI.

But the Blues found the answers and tactically outplayed Jose Mourinho's Spurs 2-1, maintaining their status in the top 4 after recent jeopardy. Olivier Giroud was back on the scoresheet after returning to the starting line-up, whilst the deadly wing-back Marcos Alonso thundered a second goal to put the game beyond doubt.

Spurs fashioned just the solitary chance in the first half - a well-worked Lucas Moura effort, but apart from that, they were short of quality, energy and were made to look fairly lightweight.

Without Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, Spurs were short-staffed both in terms of personnel as well as chances created. Mourinho, as one would expect in an away game at the Bridge, fielded a pragmatic 3-5-2 with Moura and winter signing Steven Bergwijn upfront, but the pair could hardly combine for their side.

They did get an own goal fortuitously through Antonio Rudiger and sent a little bit of unrest in the home camp, but Chelsea held on to claim all three deserved points.

On that note, we break down the tactical reasons behind Chelsea's 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Spurs.

#3 The return of Mateo Kovacic

Kovacic and Jorginho ran the show in midfield for Chelsea
Kovacic and Jorginho ran the show in midfield for Chelsea

Lampard reverted to a three-man backline, meaning he also fielded a two-man pivot at the heart of the pitch.


Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, who have been arguably the two hallmark players for the Blues this season, paired up brilliantly in the middle to outclass three central midfielders who started for Spurs. They were far more alert, physical and aware.

More often than not, both of them stifled the opposition for space together, while they also worked it around imperiously. What stood out was the communication between the two, which also allowed the full-backs and the inverted duo of Ross Barkley and Mason Mount to pervade free spaces ahead.

All in all, instead of a flat three-man midfield that would provide a better defensive base, the hosts relied on quicker movement and more incisive passing. And it was this very destructive yet well-drilled pair that wreaked havoc.

Jorginho was always there to recover, while Kovacic's pace fuelled his tracking backwards. The former's first-time pass to Giroud's path - synonymous of the assist he bagged early on against Watford - was an absolute pearl in terms of the measure and awareness that was infused.

#2 Chelsea outmuscled Spurs on all fronts

Giroud's hold up play helped Chelsea controlled the game

Right from the very top end of the pitch, it was Chelsea dominating in the air. Of course, that's what you get with Olivier Giroud. He is not pacy, neither can he skip past challenges at pace.

But what he does give is a lion-hearted effort, encapsulated with monstrous hold-up play, endurance and combination. His shielding, coupled with the little tricks and flicks to the players nearby not only helped Chelsea keep possession, but also take a couple of white shirts out of the game.

Moving on, the pivot did its job in marking men, breaking plays and shrugging off opponents. So did the centre-backs, who to be fair, were not as troubled as they would have expected against a quality side.

However, the duo of Marcos Alonso and Reece James stole the show down either end. The former was left exposed on a couple of occasions, both of which led to Spurs' chances and subsequent fouls, but James is as composed, robust and titanic as it gets. He was almost unbeatable, especially in one versus one situations.

Summing up his game, was the decision he made to trust his pace in getting ahead of a purposeful Tanguy Ndombele inside the box, after the midfielder has weaved past a static Chelsea line. James guarded the ball and prevented him from getting anywhere near the sight of goal.

Overall, Chelsea won more smart fouls, won possession back more times and were much stronger than Spurs on the afternoon.

#1 Sharp movement did the trick for Chelsea

Chelsea's Mount rubbing shoulders with Steven Bergwijn

It was great to see a proactive Lampard charting a different setup, both in terms of personnel and approach. The three-man backline mirrored Spurs defensively, but it was the home side that ran away with possession, and almost a dozen attempts on goal.

That could only happen through vibrancy upfront, given that Tottenham were playing an extremely deep defensive line. Giroud was marvellous in tormenting each of the centre-halves, both with his shots and physicality.

But it was his movement that worked wonders. As seen in the first goal, it was his brilliantly timed move - a case not often seen with Tammy Abraham or Michy Batshuayi - that split the opposition defence. Then, he did well to produce a shot, before rifling in with a sweet volley.

While the Lilywhites were largely static and shorn of innovation, Barkley and Mount occupied little pockets of space where they could lift their head up or turn.

Without the ball, the press, right from the outset, was simply breathtaking. Quite rightly, that's the difference Mount makes to this setup. The Englishman and Giroud took charge of the press, running at every single loose ball inside Spurs' own half, while also taking charge of the conduction of the same.

Published 22 Feb 2020, 21:04 IST
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