They say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Remember Arsenal at the start of the 2011/12 season. They desperately needed players but held off and held off. Then they went to Old Trafford and lost 8-2. Now, far be it from me to suggest that we could suffer the same fate but we are heading into a game against the most cohesive unit in the Premier League and are woefully underprepared. The issues we had last week are still here, compounded by the fact that we are going to be without Cesc Fabregas, leaving us with one central midfielder. I’m not entirely sure why we haven’t added a second this week, only coming to the conclusion that we are completely inept.
Tottenham, in theory, should be easy to scout. They have a settled first 11 and a distinct playing style. The thing is, they’re so good at that playing style and the players know it so well, that it’s so hard to counteract. In Lloris, they have what some say is the best keeper in the land. In Alderweireld they have what some say is the best centre back in the land. In Dembele, for me, they have the second best midfielder in the land. In Alli, they have the best attacking midfielder in the land and up top, they have the best striker. Add to this the hard work of Wanyama, the creativity of Eriksen, the culture of Vertonghen and the bombing wing backs and you have the best first 11 in the Premier League.
What Chelsea Can Do
Who knows why we are going into this with one fit central midfielder. I don’t. If I were Conte then I’d be pretty pissed but what options does he have to partner Kante?
He looked good last week, playing in three different positions and playing well in each. He is a natural defender, either right sided or central but has been known to be able to deputise in central midfield. Asking him to do this against Dembele, Wanyama, Alli and Eriksen is slightly different.
Before his breakout season last year, David Luiz’s most impressive performances came in central midfield for Chelsea. He is adept at breaking up play and can go forward without leaving massive gaps in behind. He has a great shot and great ability on the ball and able to pick holes in defences with his raking long balls. However, he hasn’t played in central midfield for Chelsea since 2014 and asking him to do so against Wanyama, Dembele, Alli and Eriksen is a bit of a task.
So, what do we do? Unfortunately, due to our chronic lack of depth, there isn’t much we can do. If Conte wants to stick to 3 at the back then it has to be Luiz in midfield with Christensen taking over from Cahill. Christensen could prove his worth and keep Cahill out of the team but he’ll be faced up against Harry Kane, who doesn’t score in August (jinx!).
How we should line up
Courtois. Azpi. Rudiger. Christensen. Moses. Kante. Luiz. Alonso. Willian. Morata. Pedro.
It’s a big ask. We will be without four first team players with another 3/4 to come in allegedly before the window shuts. We will need Azpi to stick to Alli like glue when he makes his inside left runs. Three times last season he scored against us making a run in between Azpi and Luiz. This needs working on and surely Conte will pick up on this and make the necessary arrangements.
Moses and Alonso need to step up their games. Last season Alonso’s worst games came against Tottenham. Their high pressing style doesn’t mesh well with Alonso liking time on the ball. He’s not the quickest and has trouble turning. He won’t be too bad against Walker Peters in that his experience should help but he needs to get out against Eriksen and stop him putting balls into the box. Similarly, Moses needs to take advantage of his pace advantage v Ben Davies and push the Tottenham left back back. He also needs to help Azpi out at the back post and stop Alli getting in behind.
Our toughest game of the season. Tottenham were the best team we played last year, in the league and in the cup. They don’t give you a moment’s notice and their ball control is fantastic. Dembele is a beast in midfield and Eriksen criminally underrated. Couple this with their excellent defensive unit and the best striker in the league and you have a team that should be aiming to go one better than last year. But. They are at Wembley. Tottenham don’t like Wembley. Harry Kane doesn’t score in August. Alli has a short temper and they’ve lost Kyle Walker and Danny Rose is on the outs.
Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea.