After a disappointing draw at home to Stoke, It was important that Tottenham did not lose at Stamford Bridge Saturday lunchtime. Chelsea were in need of a win if they were to close the gap on Tottenham in the battle for Champions League football. How Redknapp set out his team was going to be highly important in determining how this game went. He has been criticised in recent weeks for playing players out of position – most notably switching Bale to the right in the absence of Lennon while deploying Modric on the left, taking him away from his influential position in the middle.
The lineup on Saturday is what I and many other Spurs fans have been calling out for a long time. He opted for a 4-2-3-1 with Parker and Sandro protecting the back 4 and providing stability to allow the more attacking minded players to add creativity further up the pitch and to support Adebayor who was playing as a lone striker.
The danger man and creator for Chelsea this season has been Juan Mata and it was important that Spurs were able to stop him getting on the ball and creating in areas where it could hurt Spurs. By playing both Parker and Sandro as defensive minded midfielders, they were able to negate the threat that Mata possessed.
The below looks at how Mata performed on terms of passing and the areas where these passes took place. It also compares him against Tottenham’s main play maker (albeit from a deeper position) Luka Modric.
The first table looks at the number of passes made by each player. Modric attempted 15 more passes than Mata and had a success rate of 91% vs. Mata’s 80% Modric also looked to drive Tottenham forward with only 5% of his passes being made backwards vs. 20% of Mata’s going in that direction. Again I appreciate that Mata plays in a more advanced position but he was instrumental in retaining possession and looking to move forward.
More on Page 2: Retaining possession and Creativity stats for Modric and Mata… (button on bottom right)