Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tottenham vs Chelsea

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League 14/08/2010 Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates scoring the 5th goal Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Everything was going so well...
Two teams on the opposite paths, Tottenham up, Chelsea down.  Chelsea started the season in incredible fashion and looked like they were going to run away with things.  All of their starting 11 seemed to be in form, but their incredibly easy schedule masked over some very real difficincies. Chelsea’s main problem comes down to Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Deco, and Ricardo Carvalho were allowed to leave this summer and only Ramirez and Yossi Benayoun were brought in to replace them.  These additions combined with Michael Essien and José Bosingwa’s return from injury would in theory give their talented starting eleven enough depth to make it though the season and several tournaments.

Everything was going swimmingly for the first month as they threw beating to the likes of Blackpool, Wigan, and West Broom.  Even though Joe “Glass” Cole gets all the hype (Steven Gerrard stupidly said “Cole’s better than Messi” recently) but Benayoun was looking like a better player and quite the steal from Liverpool, which doesn’t seem to be hard to do these days (just wait till the sell Torres for 20 million and he immediately becomes the world’s best striker again).  Even early in the season there were cracks in the invincible looking amour.  Ramirez looks like yet another EPL Brazilian flop, their young players like Kolu and McCracken aren’t ready to step into a top side, and it was always naïve to think that Essien and Bosingwa would return to top form after missing so much time.  On top of that, there chances were extremely low that a lineup full of players closer to 30 than 20 was going to stay healthy all season long.

Then came the inevitable injury’s…Yossi blew out a wheel, Lampard has been out with what was understood to be a minor injury for a surprisingly long time mimicking Kevin Garnets 2009 season.  Terry and Alex have both been hurt and Anelka, Obi, and most importantly Drougba have run into poor stretches of form all at once.   With the ever unimpressive Obi and Ramirez forced into large amounts of playing time the Chelseas mid-field has been losing the battle week after week which has sapped the well oiled offensive machine of Chelsea's to stutter.  
Chelsea's Didier Drogba reacts after the Everton equaliser FA Barclays Premiership. Chelsea v Everton. 04.12.10 Photo By Karl Winter Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Drogba can't bear to look

For Spurs the season started slowly and while the occasional hiccup still happens the Spurs are rounding into top form and their strenght down the flanks could prove to be the crucial tipping point against Chelsea. 
Britannia Stadium Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur (1-2) Premier League 21/08/2010 Aaron Lennon (Spurs) Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Quietly terrorizing left backs around the world

One of the by-products of Garreth Bale's sudden rise to super-stardom has been the lack of recognition to his right handed sideline partner starting to dominate games and their destructive runs on the left and right hand sides are proving too sexy too handle for most teams.  Probably Chelsea's greatest strength offensively is having both their left and right backs over lap and provide great support to their forwards.  Is Ancelotti going to risk leaving the pace deprived Terry and Ivanovic alone trying to slow down Bale and Lennon, or will he keep Cole and Bosingwa back and make an already struggling offense even weaker?
Tottenham v Blackburn, Premier League 13/11/2010 Gareth Bale of Tottenham shoots on goal  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom
Stopping Bale's crosses will be a focal point for Chelsea

Few would have thought that after Spurs beat Chelsea in April that the next time they met Spurs would be favorites over the Blues.  This promises to be a great match for a varity of reasons and even more so when Spurs win like I think they will. 

4 comments:

  1. Nice write up dude, I'm looking forward to this matchup so much. I totally agree with you about Lennon, he's definitely come into his own lately after a slow start. More often than not, when opposing teams are successful in shutting down Bale, Lennon has been stepping up putting pressure on the defense and hitting strikers in the box.

    Here's who I expect to see on Sunday

    Gomes
    Hutton (for speed and offensive pressure)
    Dawson
    Gallas
    BAE
    Bale
    Modric
    Palacios
    Lennon
    Defoe
    Crouch

    Without VDV and Huddleston, we're forced to stay with the 4-4-2 with Defoe and Crouch up front. Defoe seems to have gotten over his offensive woes this past week in the final game of the CL Group A, while Crouch is still failing to make a difference this season. Look for Lennon to continue to light up the right side as teams will over compensate in their attention to Bale.

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  2. This weekend should be epic. Saturday, Suanday, and Monday full of EPL.

    I think you're being a little too hard on Crouch. He's partly responsible for many of VDVs goals, and he's a big reason Spurs beat Liverpool.

    Is Lennon vs Cole the matchup to watch on Sunday?

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  3. Thats true, I think all of his whiffs last weekend have clouded my vision. Crouch + VDV is a good combo up front. That begs the question, when VDV comes back, what does the offense look like? Do you have to go 4-5-1 with VDV as CAM and Defoe up front? Will Spurs struggle with a lack of size up front? My feeling is you probably have to put Defoe up there but ultimately rotate Crouch/Defoe/Pav. So many weapons! Why can't they all be healthy at the same time?

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  4. They've got time to let Defoe and VDV gel. If they can find some chemistry - Spurs could really tear some shit up.
    I think a 4-5-1 gives VDV the room to make the magic he does, but they've played a "4-4-2" to where hes just floated up a bit and done what he wants.

    As for Crouch - i have a lot mixed feelings. Bale's crosses find him, and the extra 7 inches of height can't take all the credit; the guy is getting into position. But he definitely shanks them.

    Pav is just unpredictable - I think hes got a lot of potential if he could just find his confidence. Did you see the goal he had against Bolton? It could have been luck - but a headed ball dropped to him from about 25 feet in the air and he got his foot over the top of it and drilled a low angle - opposite upper 90 shot.

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