Opposition Scouting Report: An in-depth look at Tottenham Hotspur
On the first day of 2015, Jose Mourinho’s side will have a trip to North London to face city rivals Tottenham Hotspur. With both teams playing draws in their previous games on Sunday, even the league leaders Chelsea can’t afford to take their opponents lightly.
So let’s have a look at our opponents in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Tottenham Hotspur, 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 English League Cup four times. The club has had remarkable success in Europe as well, being the first British club to win a European club competition in 1963 when they won the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Spurs also won the UEFA Cup in 1972, in turn becoming the first English club to have won two European trophies at that time. With 31 points from 19 games, the Spurs stand at 7th position in the league table. So far this campaign, the team managed by Mauricio Pochettino has managed 9 wins, 4 draws and 6 losses. In their last 7 games, they have 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss which came at the hands of Chelsea only in early December. Their previous game saw them playing a goalless draw against Manchester United, that too at their home.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Pochettino usually squares 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 go down the touchline to create space and opportunities for their versatile striker.
They are known to put their opponents under relentless pressure with their high pressing game. But that is not to say that it is the best strategy they can adopt. The Spurs have not given any significant performance against any team this season, after being thrashed by Manchester City and Chelsea and playing a draw to Manchester United at home in their previous fixture. The only good performance against an elite team in the League came against Arsenal, and that was one of the few occasions when the Spurs lined up in a more defensive formation, with the game at the Emirates stadium ending at a scoreline of 1-1.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
1. Harry Kane: Despite all the big-money signings by the club, Harry Kane is someone who has graduated from the club’s youth academy and established himself as the first-choice striker in Pochettino’s side. The Englishman has already moved into double figures in terms of goals scored in all competitions this season. His vision, hard work at front and the ability to be at the right place at the right time, is what Tottenham will rely on when the face Chelsea on New Year’s day.
2. Christian Eriksen: The Danish playmaker is among those signings by the club brought in lieu of the money received by the sale of Gareth Bale. The 22-year-old playmaker is an all-round player that the team will look forward to break the stubborn Chelsea defence, which looked somewhat shaky in their previous game. Having set his eyes on the passes and assists, he’s still the top goalscorer for the club in Premier League with seven goals to his name.
3. Hugo Lloris: If Spurs are to gain anything from the game, they will need their goalkeeper to be at his best. He was by far their best man on the pitch in their last game, when he single-handedly earned his team a point against Man United. After a few error-prone starts at the start of his Premier League career, the Frenchman has gone on to become one of the top keepers in the league. This season, he has only kept five clean sheets, given the poor defensive displays by his defenders in front of him. He’s the only man largely responsible for those five clean sheets.
WEAKNESS – THEIR DEFENCE
Hugo Lloris, along with David De Gea of Manchester United, has to be one of the most unlucky goalkeepers in the Premier League. Tottenham’s shot stopper has only five clean sheets to his name this season, in spite of being one of the most celebrated GKs in English football. The fact goes to show the poor or weak defensive abilities possessed by Spurs’ defenders. Moreover, the pressing game often results in the big spaces being left in midfield and at the back that can be exploited by teams with pacy and skilled attacking players. Their plight at defense was again highlighted in their last game against United, which was more of a clash of two trembling defences.
HEAD TO HEAD
This London Derby has witnessed 142 fixtures throughout history. The West Londoners have been victorious 61 times, while the North Londoners have got 45 wins to their name. The two teams have played a draw 36 times.
The Blues were lucky enough to maintain their top position in the league, even after playing a draw in the last game. And now it’s time to make the best of that chance when they visit White Hart Lane on Wednesday, by grabbing all the three points and begin the new year with a win!
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni