Matthew Doherty started as Tottenham’s left wingback in both Carabao Cup semifinal legs against Chelsea, an experiment that went horribly wrong.
The Irishman was clearly uncomfortable playing on the left side. He continuously wanted to cut inside to use his dominant right, veering away from driving toward the byline, where he’d be forced to knock it in with his peg leg.
Talking about legs, the first one at Stamford Bridge saw Doherty withdrawn at halftime. That was both down to his poor first half and Tottenham’s inability to cope with Chelsea’s numerical advantage in central midfield. Doherty, even in his preferred right sided role, often appears laboured. He’s not blessed with breakneck pace, increasing the importance of his decision making and ability to distribute precisely.
It was obvious Doherty wasn’t able to fulfil his obligation. Awkward, cumbersome and slow as molasses in possession, Doherty was forced to overthink every decision before committing. Everything looked grossly unnatural, which allowed Chelsea to easily snuff out the lack of potential threat from the left side of the pitch.
Combine that glaring shortcoming with Emerson Royal’s rank inability to knock in an accurate cross and you have a systemic failure almost impossible to overcome.