Breaking down Andre Villas Boas's Tottenham
Lineup taken from the Cardiff game
Andre Villas Boas and Three Point Lane, prepare to welcome Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea for a feisty affair. With more than just points at stake, both the teams enter the game full of confidence.
To summarize their team, the have a solid back-four with a blossoming partnership between Dawson and Vertonghen. On the flanks we have Naughton and Walker, with the latter more likely to join in on attacks and leave his position wide open. They maintain a good high line and constantly look at each other to keep themselves organized and initiate offside traps.
In the middle we have the so called holding midfielders, Paulinho and Dembele. They both are the focal points when it comes to pressing at opponents. They aren’t afraid to jump into attacks. Then we have Eriksen in the middle, who can take up the flank positions and join in and play alongside Soldado. On the wings we have Townsend and Sigurdsson. Both love dribbling at opponents, cutting in, exchanging flanks, retreating back and changing the effective formation to a 4-2-1-3
While transitioning into defense from an un-successful attack, the holding midfielder’s push forward wildly to press high. The wingers join in as they try to suffocate their opposition into giving the ball away. Cardiff suffered cause they were unable to get the ball away from their own half in time. Moreover the striker keeps moving along the defensive line to harass them while blocking passing lanes and reducing the passing options that their opposition has.
Once the wingers realize that pressing is a lost cause, they join back into their own half and proceed to help the full-backs. The defensive line meanwhile keeps retreating. This is the best time to hit them on the counter-attack. While the defensive line is still scurrying back into position and creating a definite structure, a huge number of holes pop up. To add on to that, the holding midfielders are still coming back from the pressing scenario and leave a huge place to exploit.
Chelsea must keep those triangles (or three hybrid profiles) fueled and ready. Make the best out of the chances you get which won’t come in abundance and have at-least a decent amount of width. Carefully break whenever possible and pass quickly to avoid being sucked into a vacuum created by the Spur’s midfield.
Their transition to attack though, reminds us a lot about the good ol’ days. That high defensive line and offside traps. Ah memories.
While attacking, Tottenham in a pure sense don’t have a defensive midfielder. Despite a 4-2-3-1, they don’t apply the system of having a pivot. The ’ I go front and you stay back ’ philosophy isn’t Tottenham’s forte. They instead have two destructive midfielders who launch themselves forward in attack whenever the ball is in the opposition half. The wingers push ahead , and the full-backs provide extra width.
The focal point is Eriksen and the two midfielders along side him. They are responsible for switching flanks, creating passing options and so on. Moreover Soldado has had a small tendency of drifting wide as the wingers drop back. This gives Eriksen a chance to burst forward as the two holding midfielders hold the structure.
The area encircled in red was well exploited by Arsenal in the North London derby. As the midfielders push up, the defensive line initiate their offside trap. Cardiff were caught offside 6 times, as many shots as they had and also the number of times Paulinho had a pop at goal. The problem is, they can’t go too forward to cover the area. So Arsene kept it simple. Let the wide players drift in, so that the defenders are attracted. This not only destructs the entire idea of an organised offside trap, but also creates more holes to be exploited.
This is why I expect Sandro to start. He is after all a pure defensive midfielder, and his ability to read the game and change their system into one that has a pivot can be vital for Andre.
Chelsea must have good width as said before, and also have wingers that can play centrally. When grabbing the ball back, get the wingers to cut inside and play narrow. When the full-backs push up, suddenly switch the ball to the flanks. This would completely annihilate the defensive line Tottenham have set up.
If Chelsea take their chances, we are in for a field day. If not, we are in for a long 90 minutes.