THE 4-2 WIN OVER Tottenham is nothing less than impressive. The Blues not only showed that they can control the game with possession (1st half) but they also displayed a strong mentality by coming back after going down 2-1 in the second half. However, they still did concede those two goals shortly after the break, and here we will look at what went wrong in the buildup to each of them.
|Picture 1. Dempsey and David Luiz battle for the ball|
Let's start with the free-kick that David Luiz gave away which led to the goal. Defoe was Spurs main striker but he understandably was not the target of their long balls from the back. Clint Dempsey was. So while Cahill guarded against Defoe's threat, Luiz contended with Dempsey for headers through out this match. Of the 10 aerial battles that Dempsey engaged in all across Chelsea's defensive third, he was successful in only two. So, David Luiz, who won 3 of the 4 aerial battles in his own half, and the Chelsea defense did a pretty good job of denying Dempsey.
Here, I don't think we can blame Luiz for going into the aerial battle, but he execution could be better. At any rate, you expect Chelsea to deal with a free-kick from this position effective and considering that this was the only foul that Luiz committed in the entire game, I wouldn't put too much culpability on the Brazilian's shoulders at this point.
|Picture 2. Defending the free-kick|
I know Picture 2 is a bit crowded but bear with me here. Basically, Tottenham had five players attacking the ball -- Vertonghan, Dempsey, Defoe, Caulker and Gallas -- while Chelsea defended with six players -- Ramires, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Torres and Mikel.
Looking through the man-marking scheme, you have these attacker and defender pairs: Vertonghan-Ramires, Dempsey-Ivanovic, Defoe-Torres, Caulker-Cahill and Gallas-Luiz; Mikel was the extra man. From a zonal perspective, Spurs had Vertongham and Dempsey in the back-pot, defended by Ramires and Ivanovic, while Defoe, Caulker and Gallas attack centrally, and defended centrally by Cahill, Torres and Luiz.
Whichever way you look at it, the defending is flawed from the start because you have feisty but small Ramires going up against a big center-half (playing out of position as a left back) Vertonghan. A more balanced approach would be to switch Torres and Ramires -- Torres vs. Vertonghan and Ramires vs. Defoe. But this imbalance was not the main cause of the goal.
|Picture 3. Defending the free-kick|
The free-kick from Tom Huddlestone was too high for any of the players in the central zone and bounced to the back post. But as the ball traveled across the Chelsea box, Ramires switched off and stopped running. Vertonghan, on the other hand, anticipated (or reacted) well and found himself unmarked to cross the ball back into the center. Gallas showed the same kind of anticipation as Vertonghan getting to the six-yard box ahead of David Luiz score the goal. The two Brazilians played a role in conceding this goal.
|GIF 1. Mikel loses possession|
Yes, another Luiz-Dempsey aerial battle was at the beginning of the buildup to the Defoe goal. The Chelsea defender let a long ball from Spurs to bounce before heading it to Mikel. There were no mistakes from the Brazilian here: he won the ball ahead of his opponent and he found a teammate with his header. But Mikel, under pressure from Sigurdsson, gave away the ball rather cheaply. Huddlestone stepped up to head the loose ball into the feet of Dempsey and Spurs attack began.
|Picture 4. Lennon lines up to shoot|
The American would find Lennon on the right wing, closely watched by Ashley Cole. As Lennon dribbled forward, Ramires did very well to come across from his central position to apply pressure on Lennon. That was very helpful to Cole who also had to be careful of Walker's forward run on the right. Meanwhile, Defoe was sandwiched between Luiz and Cahill -- the latter who was marking Defoe couldn't be any closer to the striker.
But with a quick change of pace, Lennon was able to create a yard of space to shoot from the edge of the box. Petr Cech had the clear view of Lennon, and consider the keeper's performance in this game, there was no reason to believe that he would be beaten with this shot. Well, at least not by a properly hit shot. The Spurs winger totally scuffed his strike and the ball somehow sped toward Defoe, who scored with an instinctive finish.
I really can't find anybody to blame for this goal. Yes, Mikel gave away the ball initially, but that happens in a game of football and the team reacted with good defensive transition. Maybe Ramires could have done better to prevent Lennon from shooting, but it took place outside the box from a somewhat narrow angle. And I don't find fault in Cahill's defending either; Defoe's instinctive finish was simply very good.
THERE YOU HAVE IT. The break down of the two goals Chelsea conceded against Spurs. While the second goal had luck stacked against Chelsea, Ramires and David Luiz could have done better to prevent the first goal.
Carefree, wherever you may be...