Marco Silva’s Everton held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw last weekend and owing to the result, besides a fantastic individual performance from Jordan Pickford, was a tactical masterclass from the Portuguese manager. Ahead of Spurs’ visit from the Stamford Bridge outfit, Mauricio Pochettino would be wise to take a page out of Silva’s copybook.
While some managers’ defensive approach may entail putting all their eggs in an Eden Hazard shaped basket, the former Watford boss picked out a different key man in the Blues’ line-up and, by tasking two of his Everton players with hassling him, disrupted their opponents flow with great effect.
When Maurizio Sarri came across the channel in the summer, he didn’t come alone. The Italian quickly moved to bring Jorginho to London with him from Napoli and the regista has been crucial to the remarkable rate at which the players have adopted ‘Sarri-ball’.
Playing at the base of a midfield three, the 26-year-old dictates the play from inside his own half and has an excellent passing range that enables him to find the danger men in danger areas. Silva’s approach proved that if Jorginho is not afforded time or space to pick his head up Chelsea don’t tick the same way, as Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson frustrated the £51.3m man to the point where his effect on the game was so little that he was hooked just after the hour – his shortest spell on the pitch to date in the league.
If Pochettino can emulate this tactic then dismantling Chelsea will become a lot simpler for Harry Kane and co.
The Argentine has experimented with formations this year as he swaps between five-at-the-back, a five man midfield and an orthodox 4-3-3. To achieve success against Chelsea, the standout option is the five man midfield.
Kane obviously leads the line and has the work-rate to track back and irritate Jorginho; paired with Erik Lamela, who has a tendency to stick a foot in, Pochettino has his two-man press.
The England striker is one of the most well-rounded in world football, so his effect is not lost by playing or coming deep in order to achieve defensive security. Capable of picking out a pass, the number 9 can rob the Chelsea midfielder before setting away the likes of Lucas or Son Heung-Min, who could find themselves in acres as the Blues full-backs are encouraged to get forward in support.
With the absence of Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen should get the nod next to Harry Winks with Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko the other options just in front of the back four. The Dane can seize control of the game from Jorginho and give Sarri a taste of his own medicine.
If implemented correctly, these tactical changes will see the end of Sarri’s record-breaking run.
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