Tottenham can't afford to play two strikers against Chelsea
Considering Jose Mourinho’s remarkable record at Stamford Bridge and their own indifferent form Tottenham are already going into Saturday evening’s clash with Chelsea as underdogs. However if Tim Sherwood really does have his heart set on playing with two strikers and no specialist holding midfielder it could get even worse for Spurs.
Against Cardiff last Sunday Sherwood set his side up to in a 4-4-2 formation with Emmanuel Adebayor partnering Roberto Soldado in attack, and against a dreadful Cardiff side who appear destined for the drop that was fine. They managed to grind out a 1-0 win thanks to that rarest of collector’s items; Soldado’s second Premier League goal from open play. Fortunately for Sherwood Cardiff did not have the talent in their midfield to make their numerical advantage in the centre of the park count.
The game against Chelsea will be a different matter entirely.
Mourinho has managed to get his midfield playing with a near-perfect balance of steel and solidity at the base - thanks to the January acquisition of Nemanja Matic - which is complemented by the flair and direct running of players like Eden Hazard and Willian who are always eager to receive the ball and cause problems for the opposition’s back four.
And if you show me a Spurs fan who is happy with the thought of Hazard running at Michael Dawson or Kyle Naughton without the protection of a player like Sandro then I’ll show you a liar.
In addition playing a more defensive midfielder, whether it is Sandro, Eitienne Capoue or even Mousa Dembele who drops deep, would allow Tottenham to start the (hopefully) fit again Christian Eriksen who was instrumental in their Europa League win against FC Dnipro last week.
Without Eriksen in the starting line-up Spurs often lack the invention and cunning to break down defences. Neither Adebayor nor Soldado are particularly adept at dropping deep, keeping the ball and creating chances for each other and if both are fielded at Stamford Bridge on Saturday there is every chance that the away team will be starved of the ball and in turn their two strikers starved of chances.
If Sherwood wants to still be in charge at White Hart Lane next year then this is exactly the kind of game in which he needs to be demonstrating his credentials as a top-level boss. Results in the league have been relatively satisfactory since he came in but the former Blackburn and Spurs midfielder has got to show that he can outwit a manager like Mourinho when it counts and keep his club in the race for the top four or the Tottenham hierarchy will surely be making moves to appoint a more experienced boss like Louis Van Gaal come the end of the season.
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