Tottenham Need A Miracle At The Bridge
Saturday evening will see Chelsea play Tottenham Hotspur in what at least has the look of a tasty Premier League encounter. Chelsea will be seeking to increase their lead at the top of the table on a weekend where none of the other top five sides are playing. And frankly, it’s hard to see anything other than this occurring.
Chelsea win – 1.55
Tottenham win – 6.00
Draw – 3.75
(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)
This is because Spurs, in spite of decent results, are playing dreadfully at the moment. Under Tim Sherwood, they have no structure, no plan and no cohesion. They are essentially eleven strangers sent out to a football field, left to fend for themselves with little guidance or tactical know-how.
A lack of structure in a team is bad, but there are other things of deep concern for Spurs followers too. The lack of movement in the team is deeply worrying. On and off the ball, there is a painful lack of movement, making the passing slow, aimless and cumbersome. They are for the most part an easy side to defend against, as they are so slow on the ball that the opposition defence has plenty of time to get in position. They are left to rely on individual brilliance to create and score goals. Luckily, in Emmanuel Adebayor they have a striker in top form. Without him, Spurs would be nowhere.
Along with a lack of movement, there is an alarming lack of balance in this Spurs side, especially in midfield. Reading Jonathan Wilson’s biography of Brian Clough, Wilson points out how Clough always sought to have a balanced side, often having lopsided formations to attain this balance. Tim Sherwood could do with understanding this. At the weekend, he put Mousa Dembélé and Paulinho next to each other in midfield. This was always going to fail – both are players who like to start in a deep position and make roaming runs forward. Neither are equipped to stay back and protect the defence. In the end, they ended up like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard did for England, neither sure of when to attack and when to defend.
What Spurs need to do is drop one of these players for a defensive player – Sandro or Etienne Capoue – so that the midfield has a balance and has each player comfortable in their role. Nabil Bentaleb has been used as a holding midfielder when he’s simply not comfortable in that role, preferring to play further forward where he can more easily showcase his range of passing and dictate the game. A Sandro-Bentaleb-Paulinho midfield would have a nice mix of defence and attack and might just get the best out of Paulinho, who has been anonymous in recent weeks. Doing this while accommodating Dembélé by playing him on the wing, another of Sherwood’s ‘masterplans’ recently, is another bad idea. Only one of he and Paulinho should play.
Away from the midfield, Spurs are actually fairly strong. Adebayor is a goals and assists machine up front, while Hugo Lloris’s superb form means they’re not conceding many goals. The bulk of the team may be underperforming, but having their two best players in both goalmouths is allowing them to rack up a battery of unconvincing, scrappy wins which is just about keeping them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
While they have accrued a number of these scrappy wins recently, you can’t see them doing this against Chelsea. For a start, their record at Stamford Bridge is dreadful, not having won their in any competition since 1990. Even when Chelsea were rubbish, Tottenham didn’t win there.
Right now, Chelsea are most definitely not rubbish. They are playing more and more like a José Mourinho side – being stingy in defence, lethal on the break and with just enough gamesmanship to rile footballing purists. In defence and midfield especially, they are showing themselves to be a top side. It’s only their lack of an in form striker that is preventing them running away from this season’s Premier League. If they had one, regularly scoring and creating (Romelu Lukaku perhaps?) you wouldn’t see anyone stopping them. As it is, Man City will still go ahead of them if they win their games in hand while Liverpool are scoring enough hatfuls of goals to still be a threat.
On Saturday night, it’s hard to see them not winning. Forgetting the players on display – this is Jose Mourinho against Tim Sherwood. In managerial stakes this is the equivalent of Drederick Tatum taking on Homer Simpson. And that’s before you look at the better players Chelsea have at their disposal and the fact they have home advantage. Eden Hazard is amazing, the defence is strong while in Willian and now André Schürrle they have players who can atone for the lack of a good front man.
Chelsea should win. And barring a miracle, they will win.
Betting Instinct Tip – Chelsea to win to nil is 2.60 with GR88.com
JACK HOWES (debaser92) is an avid sports fan who writes about football and Asperger’s Syndrome. The only things he loves more than Mars Bars are his family and Tottenham Hotspur FC.