The unexpectedly amazing November month is now over! Except for the disappointing draw against Sunderland on Saturday, it didn’t actually feel that it was the ‘November curse’ going on.
As we head into December, Chelsea will host London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. With one team looking to stay at the top without any loss and the other eyeing for a place in Europe, it is expected to be a tough competition between the two.
Chelsea should be going into this one with a down-to-earth attitude, because they will be ready to expect any kind of surprise after the 0-0 stalemate against Sunderland this past weekend. So let’s have an in-depth look at the team from North London in our Opposition Scouting Report.
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Tottenham Hotspurs, founded in 1882, is a club based in Tottenham, London and play their home games at White Hart Lane. The team is managed by Mauricio Pochettino, under the captaincy of Younes Kaboul. Throughout their history, they have won the FA Cup 8 times, The Football League title twice, and The Football League Cup four times. The club has had remarkable success in Europe as well. They became the first British club to win a European club competition in 1963, when they won the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Spurs won the UEFA Cup in 1972, in turn becoming the first English club to have won two European trophies.
This season, the team hasn’t been impressive overall with their neutral performances. Placed at 7th position, they have 20 points from 13 games played which include 6 wins, 5 losses and 2 draws. They have won four of their last seven fixtures, losing the other three to Manchester City, Newcastle United and Stoke City. Regardless of their mediocre form, Tottenham are the fourth best away team in the league right now and the win against Everton at home, this past Sunday, can serve to boost them up for the short visit to West London on Wednesday.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
During his reign at Southampton and even now, Mauricio Pochettino lines up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Two attacking, fast full backs play on either side of the two centre-backs, who often split wide to receive passes from the goalkeeper and play the ball forward from defence. Two defensive midfielders are ever-present to guard the back four. The three attacking midfielders constantly interchange places and are not afraid to cut inside or down the touchline to create space and opportunities for their versatile striker.
Their midfield can cause trouble for Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic and our back four with their high pressing and relentless game. This however, has not helped them much this season. Instead, in the North London derby in September, when Pochettino used a more defensive approach and tried to hit Arsenal back on the counter, the team looked more focused and organized although they eventually lost by one goal to nil. And when he returned back to his pressing game against Manchester City, his team ended up getting throttled 4-1.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
Harry Kane – The 21-year-old England international was by far the best man on the pitch in the Spurs’ 2-1 win over Everton. Throughout the game, he covered 13 kilometres which is more than any other player in the League and engineered Roberto Soldado’s goal which was his first in the last 12 games. Kane’s energy was enough to lift up the whole White Hart Lane crowd. He is also the club’s highest goalscorer this season with 11 goals, and is all set to take Emmanuel Adebayor’s position. According to Squawka, the Englishman boasts a shooting accuracy of 83%, significantly higher than Emmanuel Adebayor’s 64% and Roberto Soldado’s 43%.
Christian Eriksen – Even before his move to White Hart, the 22 year old Danish midfielder was regarded as one of the most promising young talents in world football. He was also shortlisted for the 2011 European Golden Boy Award, alongside Eden hazard, Thiago Alcantra, Jack Wilshere and the winner Mario Gotze. Eriksen is the currently third highest club goalscorer with 5 goals to his name, and has been a regular starter this season. Against Everton, Erikson scored his team’s first goal with a run for the ball just outside the penalty area and finishing the job with a nice chip over the goalkeeper.
Their pressing game strategy often backfires. The full backs frequently leave space on the flanks for opposition players to exploit and in turn, expose their own centre-backs. Not only this, the kind of response they have been getting from their centre forwards is terrible. Roberto Soldado with 3 goals this season, and Emmanuel Adebayor with only 2 have have added up to their problems. Their poor defending skills against skillful players, allowing them to dribble past and find spaces, is considered to be their biggest weakness of all. Good news for Hazard, Oscar and Fabregas.
HEAD TO HEAD
This London Derby has witnessed 141 fixtures throughout history. The West Londoners have been victorious 60 times, while the North Londoners have got 45 wins to their name. The two teams have played a draw 36 times.
The late kick-off at Stamford Bridge is expected to be a tough challenge for both teams. The League leaders will surely go into the match as favourites, but the confident and high-spirited (as they must be after the win against Everton) Spurs too won’t be fighting for anything less than 3 points.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni