Chelsea v Spurs Preview
Is anyone giving us half a chance to get something out of Sundays derby game? I think most, pundits and neutrals, can't see past anything other than a Chelsea win. Whether its comfortably achieved or points are stolen in the dying minutes. They are at their efficient best at the minute. Not in anyway sexy or free-flowing. Just determined, resourceful, strong, organised and lucky. The latter being something you earn from sheer hard work. You can't be critical of any team that churns out results in the manner they do. In what looks like a season where the likes of Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal will suffer more defeats than usual, all eyes are on Chelsea. If their performances thus far have been scoring 70% or so then its ominous what they'll be able to do at full pelt. That is if there is a full pelt. Maybe the way they're playing is as good as it will get. Doubtful. Hopeful.
It really depends how we line-up and just how we go about our business tactically. We got it completely wrong against Man Utd. But Harry had limits to what he could do, with Niko possibly not quite match-fit for a start and Keane ok on the left but leaving Huddlestone with no support in the middle. Far too many hoofs and not enough clever disguised passes. But then with Modric sidelined, it was always going to be tricky re-working the balance and structure of the side. Having Utd was not a gentle test for our first re-think. Chelsea away is equally annoying as Harry tries to compensate for the Luka loss.
Earlier this week I blogged about the possible tactical re-shuffle that we will need to undertake. Click here to re-visit this or if you missed it first time round.
I discussed the obvious. Stick Keane back up front with Defoe because we'll need him to drop deep and help out a midfield while Jenas (starting) plays alongside Palacios. JJ's role will be to run his socks off and aid us in the battle against being over-run in the centre. In addition, we need to try to stretch the Chelsea midfield so Jenas might have to work it a little on the flanks too with Niko (who would start on the left) possibly looking to cut in a little. And yet more responsibilities for Jenas as he also makes sure that BAE isn't over-run by Chelsea's attacking full-back(s).
However. I've had a sudden change of heart. I have no logical explanation for it. Although I do believe that Harry will go with Jenas over Huddlestone (gut feeling) I've decided that even though this is a derby match and relatively important for confidence (imagine what a win there would do for us and the Premier League?) - I think Harry should stick with Huddlestone. We've already had one major trauma to the team, no need to induce another. We know Jenas can work with Wilson. But he's also let us down countless of times. He's also performed admirably on occasions. But Huddlestone being dropped serves us and the player no good in the long run. If Tommy is going to be this big bad quarter-back of a player then if he can't do it against Chelsea then there's no real point in placing faith in his future as a Spurs central midfielder.
He did a job on the Liverpool midfield. The United game was unimpressive for many of our players so singling him out for an average performance is not warranted.
Stick with Huddlestone. Allow Palacios to bite at their knees. Keane dropping deep will allow Hudd a little time to pick out a pass. When he isn't in possession he is more than capable of some hustle and bustle. The midfield will probably be congested at times. So mobility might not be required criteria. Pressure on the opposition in the middle will be. And he's big enough to handle himself there.
Niko on the left. Lennon on the right. Spread the ball out to them. It's all easier said than done, and on the day its going to come down to us wanting it and believing we can win. The type of reassurance that the likes of Chelsea possess so well. Which is why they don't except anything less than three points.
I do not want to see a single Spurs player go out there with an apologetic manner like they've got sand in their minge. Get up them. Be fearless. We haven't done too badly against them in recent games. So psychologically there's a slight edge there. Ever so slight.
Defeat won't be the end of the world. But losing is a shit feeling that leaves you with what you started with a second before the kick-off. Nothing. Enough hype, show intent.