Tottenham Hotspur defeated Chelsea narrowly 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup semi-final. Harry Kane’s penalty in the first half proved to be the difference, which was awarded after consultation with VAR. Chelsea had more of the ball in the game but will trail going into the second leg nonetheless. In my tactical analysis, I’ll take a deeper look at the game.
Chelsea dominate the ball
Chelsea dominated the ball, and had 57.2% possession in the match. Spurs were actually on par early on though. For the first half hour, they saw more of the ball. But after Kane’s goal, the possession swung considerably in Chelsea’s favour.
This was reflected in the passing numbers as well. Chelsea made 637 passes, compared to 468 by Spurs. Interestingly, Spurs completed 227 passes in the defensive third, compared to just 132 by Chelsea. In the final third, Chelsea made 248, and Tottenham could manage a measly 60. The visitors had a better completion rate as well with 87%. This tells that Chelsea severely outperformed Spurs in territorial dominance, especially in the opposition half.
Contrasting positioning for both sides
The average position tells us just as much. Look at how the positions of the full-backs compare. Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier are well into their own half, whereas Marcos Alonso is much more advanced. Only the front two for Spurs are in the Chelsea half, but correspondingly there are six Chelsea players in the opposition half.
Chelsea don’t take their chances
But they couldn’t convert that dominance into goals. They had chances, mind you. Maurizio Sarri’s side created 16 chances and their opponents managed just five. But their shooting accuracy was off. Despite having 11 more shots, they had just one more on target than Spurs.
Chelsea were undoubtedly the superior side in terms of attack. They had more possession in the final third, more chances, and took more shots. But they were not accurate in front goal. Real Madrid target Eden Hazard played the striker role, and they sorely missed an orthodox frontman. Hazard dropped deep often, which meant that there was no one in the box for Chelsea.
Spurs were busier defensively
The defensive numbers for both sides also show a clear demarcation. Spurs were by far the busier side defensively. They made 31 clearances in the game, compared to just nine by Chelsea. Spurs made more interceptions and attempted more tackles. Hugo Lloris made five saves, while Kepa Arrizabalaga had to make three.
Delving into the individual statistics also tells a few things. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso had more touches than anyone in the game. This tells that Spurs were happy to let the full-backs have possession, and did not press them.
Spurs did win the game, but it was more due to Chelsea’s inability rather than their own credibility. Kane clinically put away his spot-kick, but his side offered scant more in attack. Chelsea had a greater attacking threat and failed to make the most of it. Sarri will put out different personnel in the second leg, and a similar passive strategy won’t work for Pochettino then. An enticing battle awaits us at the Bridge in two weeks.
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