Chelsea – Tottenham Hotspur: Sarri Has Not Lost The Dressing Room Yet (2-0)
This was a decisive match in Chelsea’s season and maybe even in Maurizio Sarri’s managerial career. With Kepa benched for his refusal to be substituted, would the Chelsea team show up? We got a clear answer, and even though this tense game could have easily gone Tottenham’s way, Chelsea fought for every loose ball, pressed ferociously and were clinical with their chances.
Tactical analysis and match report by Erik Elias.
These two teams do not like each other. Even though Tottenham’s archrivals of course are Arsenal, this game is always heated, even more so since Chelsea ended Tottenham’s title chase in the 2015/16 season, in a game that was so violent it later became known as the ‘Battle of the Bridge’. A lot of players that were present on that day were on the pitch today as well. Chelsea also won the FA Cup final against Tottenham in 2017. Doesn’t help. Going into the match, the difference between third-placed Tottenham and sixth-placed Chelsea was a whopping ten points.
The biggest team news came from Chelsea, as Maurizio Sarri decided to bench Kepa Arrizabalaga, after the Spanish goalkeeper had refused to be substituted in Sunday’s League Cup final against Manchester City. Willy Caballero, who was denied potential penalty heroics on Sunday, got the full ninety minutes here. Whether Sarri’s decision is permanent is not clear yet.
Further up the pitch, in Sarri’s customary 4-3-3 formation Marcos Alonso was . . .