Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea, Wembley Stadium, London Scorers: – Tottenham: – Michy Batshuayi (OG), Chelsea: – Marcos Alonso (2)
Chelsea put their last week woes behind with a hard-fought 2-1 victory vs Spurs at Wembley. Left wing-back Marcos Alonso scored twice to become an unlikely hero for the defending champions. Spurs, on the other hand, were a bit unlucky not to score more goals with the amount of possession they had. Batshuayi scored an own goal to equalise for Pochettino’s men.
First Half: –
The game began with subtle tactical nuances applied by both managers. Pochettino put out a 4-3-3 formation having Dier in midfield with Dembele and Wanyama. Conte, on the other hand, chose to start with a 3-5-1-1 formation. This meant Luiz had to play in midfield alongside Kante and Bakayoko. Willian was a lone supporter for Morata centrally in the forward line.
As expected, Spurs had more of the ball and Chelsea were ready to sit deep and frustrate. Due to the formational switch by Conte, likes of Alli, Eriksen were having less influence on the game.
As shown in the above image, an extra body in midfield enabled Chelsea to defend the supply lines expertly. Tottenham’s fullbacks who were wingers for most of the game had more space to work with but the quality of crossing from Davies and Trippier wasn’t great. They tried to play angled ball towards Kane to isolate one defender but the quality was below par.
But, against the run of play, Morata had the best chance of the game very early on. Azpilicueta delivered a great ball from quarter-back region and the Spaniard got himself free in the box only to head the ball wide clumsily. It was good from Chelsea but very slow from Spurs. They offered too much space to the centre-back and Alderweireld had his positioning wrong allowing Morata to find space behind him. The Belgian should have been tracking the striker and not the ball.
The defending champions eventually led via a peach of a free-kick from Marcos Alonso. Taking nothing away from the strike, the goalkeeper could have done better with his positioning.
As shown in the above image, the downward arrow shows where the ball ended up in the net. The left arrow shows that Lloris could have been more central in his positioning there. Even if Willian takes this free kick from the right foot, it is more likely that it will be curled in from the same post. Therefore, standing in a more central position would have made a slight difference as the strike from Alonso wasn’t exactly at the corner. Overall, we shouldn’t take anything away from the strike, as they say, the Spaniard wouldn’t have struck a football much better than that.
To be fair to Tottenham, they responded well after conceding. Likes of Alli and Eriksen started finding spaces with quick feet and intelligent passing around the Chelsea midfield. This forced the defending champions to be little deeper than normal allowing likes of Kane to turn and shoot if the opportunity comes. As the first half was nearing its end, the home team started to turn on the heat with series of corners and Kane hitting the bar. But, the lady luck wasn’t on Spurs’ side, none of the crosses didn’t really hurt Chelsea.
Second Half: –
The later part of first half was repeated in early parts of the second half. Tottenham came out with an intent to score early and then push on for the victory. Chelsea were getting deeper and deeper minute by minute. If we look at Chelsea’s overall player positioning, the whole story can be narrated using it.
As shown in the above image, average positioning clearly shows Spurs were dominant throughout the 90 minutes. The problem Chelsea had which was the main catalyst of their only 32% possession is lack of ball-holding or running behind the defence by Morata. The striker was stagnant most of the time and so whenever the ball was thumped forward, he struggled to win it in the air or hold up under pressure. We can say the lack of support also made him look isolated but he should have done much better. It’s his first 90 minutes in English football, he will learn and adapt to it for sure.
Spurs eventually got their deserving equalizer when Batshuayi scored an own goal from Eriksen’s free kick. To start with, it was clumsy by Bakayoko to concede the set-piece in a dangerous position. All that home team pressure and they finally got the reward, but not for long.
Three minutes before the ninety, Kante went on a bursting counter-attacking run through the middle. This happened when Spurs were flooding forward to get the winner and left themselves blank open at the back. Even though the initial attack was broken down, Wanyama lost the ball in a dangerous position in midfield to allow Chelsea to counter-attack again. Alonso then fired a shot in from the near post. The goalkeeper, I am afraid, is at the fault again.
As shown in the above image, it was a wrong technique used by Lloris to prevent that low drive. The Frenchman should have been saving that with his foot rather than going down and applying a hand. The ball skids through faster when it is close to the ground and the reaction time is less. A moment of misfortune one would say for Spurs and great for Chelsea.
Analysing the whole game, we noticed one thing that in football, not always the best team wins. Sometimes hard-work, grit and determination to play a certain way can win you games. That was Chelsea today, playing with body on their line and getting the goals when it was needed. Tottenham, on the other hand, will be kicking themselves not to win this game. Maybe the Wembley hoodoo struck them again but to be honest, they were the better side throughout and were unlucky not to get even a single point for this effort.