Here is a clash the whole world will watch with attention. The fourth-placed Mauricio Pochettino meet the third-placed Maurizio Sarri in a London derby full of tactical options and two teams looking for the top of the table.
The name “Maurizio” has its origins in Latin language and it means “the one with the dark skin”. Not that this information means something to the match, but I always like to bring some outside knowledge to my Twelve previews.
Pochettino was Marcelo Bielsa’s apprentice. The Argentinean master, today at Leeds United, had a very similar career as Sarri: the same age, and both started at small amateur clubs while they worked at a bank to pay their bills.
And that’s it. There’s no similarities between the managers and their football philosophies. Sarri plays a 4-3-3 with lot of possession, short passes, acceleration in the final third and trying to master set pieces.
Against a team with these features, Tottenham may have difficulties. Taking a look at Effective Time Possession against Manchester City (who utilise a similar play model to Chelsea), Spurs won the midfield but lost on defense, where Guardiola’s players ruled the match.
Jorginho: The midfield king
If you are going to build attacks from the back, it makes sense to have your best player on the ball as deep as possible. The Italian midfielder is Chelsea’s metronome. He keeps the team ticking.
On his Attack dashboard for the season, Jorginho has scored 10,037 points with good passes in the last third and chances created. He can be found in exactly the spaces where Spurs should not give in if they want to take control of the match.
And if Pochettino will play on a 3-5-2 or 4-2-3-1 platform, he will need hard work from Eric Dier to congest the vision of Jorginho. Dier scored 2,109 points on Off Ball actions, mostly occupying the right side of the field (which can be seen clearly if you switch the ‘only important actions’ button on the below dashboard). The same area where Hazard and Alonso usually appear.
Expected goals may be the difference
In 12 matches, only three times have Spurs conceded more expected goals than they created. It was against Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolverhampton. In the last two, Tottenham had less than half of the possession. And everything points towards possession dominance from the Blues on Saturday. Will they turn that possession into high quality goal scoring chances?
The Brazilian forward Willian leads the Premier League’s table for chances created, with 35. Always playing with vertical dynamics, he is able to make good key passes and assists. On Twelve’s leader board with both teams, Willian had the 11th best performance with 13,185 points.
On the other side, there is a striker who will always search for the best chance to shoot. Harry Kane leads both sides on Twelve points, and with 40 shots he has taken the fourth most in the Premier League in 2018/19.
Chelsea’s xG timeline is more irregular, with an interesting pattern: they breach the average point in attack, but then start a descending production line. Taking a look at Twelve’s expected goal timeline, we can believe that against Tottenham it will be time to create good chances.
Not so good news for Pocchetino’s side. On Saturday, it will be Chelsea with more possession and creating good chances, while Tottenham will try to surprise them with good technical play and speed on offensive transitions. Which method will come out on top?