As well as many anti-Chelsea fans predicted that we would lose to Spurs, so did it happen. But the sucker punch to them is that we still hold a five-point advantage at the league summit. Despite the significant drop in team performance against Spurs, in what could be regarded as an off-day for Chelsea, they must also be given credit for achieving the feat of 13 consecutive league wins in a single season. We proved our critics wrong and still lead the title race. But the big challenge and threat to our title dream certainly requires that we re-fire to blaze through. Here are things we need to do:
MODIFY TACTICAL SET-UP:
About the same time two years ago after our 5-3 defeat to Spurs, then manager, Jose Mourinho ditched the fluid attacking game we served earlier into a more pragmatic style. This was intended to provide steel and force to combat the pressure by other teams. Ultimately, it proved successful as we romped to the league title.
Similarly, without killing our attacking instinct and defensive balance, Antonio Conte can make modification to our 3-4-3 formation in terms of tactical changes and personnel. This will bring balance to the team. One major failing in our last two games against Stoke City and Spurs was our inability to defend crosses into the box. Stoke deployed Peter Crouch, while Spurs deployed Dele Alli (both scored against us). It’s no surprise that we can’t handle that since we’ve only scored two headed goals all season. More so, we miserably failed to increase our intensity and match the physicality of especially, Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Most teams now set up in the same formation in a bid to frustrate or overpower us. If we are going to win, then we must look far & less predictable than ever.
PLAY EVERY GAME LIKE A CUP FINAL:
With 19 games left to play, it will be foolhardy for us to think it will be smooth sailing till the end. Many more teams will obviously want to beat us. Another stark reality is that we have been found out as teams will look to replicate the Spurs blueprints in winning us. More so, many of our big rivals are on the rise: Manchester United look to be in the ascendancy as Jose Mourinho has finally found the winning formula. Currently on a six-game winning streak surely they are no pushovers. Liverpool are a blistering force in the chasing pack, Spurs are in red-hot form scoring 8 goals in their last three games which had lifted them to third place, while Arsenal and Manchester City are in decent form to take advantage of any slip-ups. The battle has just begun.
We must see our remaining games as 19 cup finals. We must be ready to sweat blood and win at all cost; either by brain or brawn. No excuses, no half measures should be the mantra as we seek to win our second league title in three years.
REINFORCE THE TEAM:
As the season progresses, without a doubt the players are prone to injuries, fatigue and lethargy. Significant upgrade or backup will be needed if the team is being stretched to its limits. What happens if Marcos Alonso (our only specialist left wingback) gets injured? Many will put for one between utility player, Cesar Azpilicueta or youngster, Kennedy. While both are good, both are not specialists. Moreso, injuries to other key players could disrupt team chemistry. Some positions are just threadbare and need cover.
The feeling, excitement and fanfare that come with signing new players of premium value can reinvigorate the team to perform. This will fuel the players’ belief in the club’s ambition.
Let’s hope for the best. Cheers!