After falling twice in less than two weeks to Chelsea, you can understand Conte making a change to his team, but his gambit failed as Tottenham was burnt on the edges.
With so much attention paid to striker Romelu Lukaku and the depth in Chelsea’s central midfield – which was N’Golo Kante brought on as a substitute – it is easy to forget about the wide areas, where Chelsea made Spurs pay, despite a change in formation from Antonio Conte in his starting XI.
Tottenham tries to control and contain
Conte set up Tottenham in a formation not before seen under the Italian at Spurs, a 4-4-2. Making the formation even more interesting was the fact it was Ben Davies and Ryan Sessegnon on the left, with Japhet Tanganga and Matt Doherty on the right.
With both Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal apparently nursing knocks, the lineup kind of made sense but in the end, it was the play out wide that hurt Spurs the most.
Japhet Tanganga struggled all day with Callum Hudson-Odoi as time and again Tanganga played too aggressively, giving up fouls, and eventually a lot of space on Chelsea’s first goal. Matt Doherty did was he could to keep Malang Sarr under wraps but was not able to provide much help to Tanganga.
As Japhet was pulled all over the field chasing Hudson-Odoi, it opened the space behind him, which pulled Eric Dier out and led to the free-kick that was goal number two for the Blues. If we have learned anything this month, it is that Tanganga is not really ready to play against top teams in Conte’s system and Spurs again paid for it.
Davies and Sessegnon struggle for Spurs
If things were bad on the Tottenham right with Tanganga and Doherty, they were a flat-out nightmare on the left for Davies and Sessegnon.
Sessegnon was a total passenger on the day, looking to lose the ball every time he touched it, which was not often. So not looking for the ball was Sessegnon that both Lucas Moura and Oliver Skipp had more touches in less than half the minutes. Sess looked scared and lost, making things more difficult for Davies as a result.
Maybe the idea was that Sessegnon would get forward, allowing Davies to push up on the left. However, we all know left fullback is not really Davies’s strong suit and it showed Sunday. Davies hid behind Sessegnon for much of the match defending the space behind Ryan but no real man or ball.
On Hakim Ziyech’s goal both Sessegnon and Davies just stood there watching him set up despite knowing he is only going one way, left.
Maybe Conte’s plan was to show the true lack of depth in this side with the transfer window still open. If that was the case, mission accomplished. Beyond that, well it was just more of the same when Spurs face Chelsea.