The real threat from Chelsea is not from their main striker. Torres’s role in Chelsea squad is only to execute, i.e converting incoming passes towards opponents net. That is his job. He is not the source of threat to spurs on Oct 20th, when Chelsea @ white hart lance against Tottenham. The real threat to spurs are from those who create chances/opportunities. In my opinion, creation of chances/opportunities is more interesting than execution. It is an unique thrill & I would view it larger than execution. Thus, I feel, Mata, Hazard & Mikel as key threats to Tottenham, than Torres. These 3 men are highly creative & organic in nature & posses highly dangerous skills. If spurs desire a win against Chelsea, then AvB will have to create a plan which mitigates the threats created by these 3 men.
One of the methods to mitigate the threat is by ensuring walker, William Gallas, caulker, Jan Vertoghen & Friedel(or Lloris, if he is playing)clearly understand the operating model of these 3 men. I am sure AvB will have created a detailed plan, highlighting the operating model of Hazard, Mata & Oscar and thus helping spurs players to understand the operating model of these 3 men. Operating model includes the process of tracking/predicting the direction of passes, shots, dribble, touches, movement, based on all possible situations, including favorite position, twists & turns, attempts on goals, passes to their striker etc. This is the most important preparation from spurs point of view & AvB needs to demonstrate his acumen during this tactical match. Let’s see, what are all the ways to deal with these 3 men.
Table from this season(2012-2013) so far :
|John Obi Mikel||392||41||433||90.53%|
***Above figures from http://www.thechels.co.uk/
Principles to deal with Eden Hazard :
a) Identify the source, where Hazard receives most of his passes
b) Allow spurs defenders to take 1-to-1 & not crowd him
c) Do not indulge in a physical contact with him, inside spurs box
Methods to silence Mata :
Mata is the bridge between Chelsea non-striking players & Torres. He is the medium in which Chelsea scores goals & that is the game plan for Robert Di Matteo. He is such a great talent that, one cannot miss to appreciate. And AvB knows it very well, than RDM. Afterall, he has nourished Mata well, during his short spell with Chelsea. Knowing a threat is different from taking an action to mitigate it. So what will AvB do ? Sit quiet? I feel containing Mata is difficult. One of the method to contain Mata is to limit the service to him. I mean, prevent Mikel providing that crucial passes to Mata.
Mikel is the holding mid-fielder for Chelsea He partners with Frank Lampard, to provide fluidity & momentum to the game. This season,especially, when Chelsea team is built around their key striker(Torres), you can see Mikel playing a very specialized role. In my view, he has been great so far, with a few glitches. If Mikel is allowed to play freely, he controls the mood, tempo & music of the game. AvB needs to identify a player who can dilute Mikel’s objective i.e by way of pressing him hard, and make him play quick passes, commit errors etc.
Role of Lampard : Lampard natural game(preference) is to play as an advanced midfield player. Post arrival of Mata, Hazard & Oscar, this position cannot be allocated to Lampard. Besides, his form is also getting optimized, if not declining. Although, he is an important player to Chelsea RDM cannot allow him to play in his favorite position. Thus, he made Lampard to partner with Mikel in the defensive midfield position role (Essien has been sent to Real Madrid). RDM wishes Lampard to replicate the role of Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) to Chelsea.
I hope AvB has rightly identified this glaring error (facts & figures mentioned above). He should allow spurs players to tighten up the area occupied by Mikel & Lampard. It’s like this saying, that the strongest link in a chain is as strong as the weakest link. Similarly Mata, Hazard & Oscar are only effective, when Mikel & Lampard play to their given roles & achieve their objective. Therefore, it is upto AvB to determine the type of players within spurs, who will take up the responsibility to challenge Mikel & nullify majority of threats. I can think of Mousa Dembele & Sandro to play this role fluently. They seem to be in very good form & shape.
AvB need to have width at the same time, have very effective play-making in central mid-filed zone. Dempsey to play higher up on the pitch & Dembele can support him sitting deep, allowing Defoe to move ahead, supported by Bale on the left & Lenon on the right.
Defense section – Not sure if Cahill or David Luiz is prefered to partner along with John Terry. Let’s assume if RDM prefers Cahill over Luiz, then Defoe will find it hard to penetrate the box.
Option a) If Cahill is starting, then I hope Adebayor to be in the starting 11. It would be more wise, to start with Adeabyor, because, he can leverage his physicality to adequately engage David Luiz. More aerial duals can be seen in the first half. Defoe can be deployed for more sharpened and efficient attacks later during the game.
Option b) If Luiz is chosen, then AvB to have Defoe as their key striker.
David Luiz is a great player, however, his game reading capability is relatively less,when compared to Cahill. Besides, Luiz goes for head-head tackle and aims to win the ball. Whereas, Cahil is more wiser & allows opponent to make the first move & then prevents/tackles. It is going to be an interesting option for AvB to chose his strikers based on RDM’s move.
AvB has to trust his knowledge & instincts. He should not be listening to the demands of club at this moment. Just focus on what he feels & prepare the plan. He is known to respect young individuals(it could be a youth product in spurs) & provide them an opportunity to showcase their passion. And ensure flawless execution through his 11 men.
In my view, there is always a battle between ‘performance’ vs ‘result’ in any given game. Whilst result is commercial & it matters the most, performance is an exquisite art leaving a lasting impression. Good luck AvB!