EPL 2021/2022 GW5: Tottenham 0 - 3 Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur 0
(Silva 49, Kante 57, Rudiger 90+2)
Another convincing win without conceding for Chelsea in North London against Tottenham. The hosts held Tomas Tuchel's side in a high energetic first half until the visitors went up a gear and took the lead from a set-piece after the break. The Blues doubled their advantage before the hour mark and, after wasting plenty of chances, Antonio Rudiger sealed the final 3-0 victory.
Tactically, it was classic Chelsea but with a twist in the second half. Let's see how they started and how Tuchel re-shaped the team to cope with Spurs' high tempo.
⚽ In Possession
Chelsea played in their 3–4–3 system with the 2 wing-backs running up and down the pitch and shifting into a 3–2–5 shape with the ball. This worked particularly well on the right flank where Marcos Alonso exploited the mismatch with Emerson Royal time and time again, especially in the second half.
Chelsea initiated the build-up from deep with three centre backs and Jorginho as a pivot to receive the ball and dictate play. Tottenham's initial high press saw three forwards matching up the centre backs and two midfielders, Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli tracking Mateo Kovacic and Kai Havertz respectively.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg acted as the holding midfielder and stayed deep to provide coverage. Whether he was to leave space to Jorginho to develop the play or to press him higher on the pitch was a conundrum that remained unsolved as the Danish international opted for the two intermittently without a clear strategy.
The initial high press worked well for the hosts throughout the first period. The Blues were able to bypass Spurs' line of pressure only relying on either Marcos Alonso or Romelu Lukaku with long high balls.
On the flanks, Chelsea tried to create overloads and exploit 2v1 situations. This happened in the first half when Cesar Azpilicueta dragged Sergio Reguilon out of position to free Mason Mount who was lurking between the lines and was readily picked by Jorginho. And again in the second half when Alonso's underlaps asked serious questions to Tottenham's defence.
The run of play changed dramatically after the break, thanks to Tuchel's intuition to bring on N'golo Kante for Mount and bolster the midfield. The energetic French international helped to match up Spurs' midfield trio and allowed better coverage without the ball while freeing Jorginho who, also thanks to Tottenham's urgency drop after the frantic start, found more and more room to find space and dictate play.
⛔ Out Of Possession
Defensively, Chelsea played in a 5–2–3 out of possession with wing-backs dropping deeper alongside the back three. The first line of pressure screened the central channels and forced Tottenham into wider and less dangerous areas.
Chelsea's narrow and compact shape was particularly effective to avoid Spurs playing through balls and Eric Dier and Cristian Romero couldn't pick teammates easily. Eventually, Højbjerg would drop deep to initiate the build-up from deep with Kante and Kovacic dropping back to overload the midfield and screen the defence.
On some occasions, during the first half, Chelsea's two centre midfielders were overloaded 3v2 when playing against the Spurs' three-man midfield. Kante's introduction after the break evened the number of players in midfield and Chelsea's play seemed faster and better orchestrated.
🔑 Key Factors
It was a majestic display of common intent and tactical discipline for Chelsea. Tottenham spent much of the first period on the front foot but after Thiago Silva's opener, they lost conviction.
Kante's ability to brilliantly cover both defensive and attacking phases helped Chelsea grow in the second half, create more options and counterattack Spurs' high tempo.
Every player, yes especially centre backs, was clever on the ball and was a constant threat. Chelsea are a well-oiled machine running at full steam where every component solves its purpose collectively.
In a game where the forwards didn't shine, two strikes from set-pieces and a wicked deflection off a defender only served to remark Chelsea's title ambitions even more.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, 12. Emerson, 4. Romero (6. Sanchez), 15. Dier, 3. Reguilon, 28. Ndombele (29. Skipp), 5. Hojbjerg, 20. Alli, 7. Son, 18. Lo Celso (11. Gil), 10. Kane
Chelsea: Kepa, 4. Christensen, 6. Thiago Silva, 2. Rudiger, 28. Azpilicueta, 5. Jorginho, 8. Kovacic, 3. Alonso, 19. Mount (7. Kante), 29. Havertz (11. Werner), 9. Lukaku