Chelsea have one foot in the Carabao Cup final after their 2-0 win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge last night.
Thomas Tuchel’s side took a 2-0 lead into half-time thanks to goals from Kai Havertz and a Japhet Tanganga own goal, as they lined up with a back-four for the first time under the German coach.
Immediately the differences could be seen in their play, and Chelsea fans were delighted with the differences in their performance.
Tuchel opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation early on, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso installed as traditional full-backs rather than wing-backs. In a midfield two was Jorginho and Saul Niguez, with Mason Mount just ahead of them. Havertz and Hakim Ziyech took up the winger positions with Romelu Lukaku up front.
It didn’t take long for Chelsea to implement themselves on the game, pressing high and keeping possession well in the early minutes.
They quickly established a press too that didn’t allow Spurs out of their own half. A box between the two central midfielders and the two centre-backs meant that whenever the ball reached that zone, they would all squeeze and force possession to be given up immediately.
There was also their man-to-man press, which caught Spurs out early as Alonso pinched the ball from Emerson Royal for the opening goal to assist Havertz.
After that goal though, is when we saw the difference in performance between the back three and the back four really come to life.
Chelsea played with a much higher tempo with one, two and three touch passes in midfield to keep the ball ticking over and force Spurs to chase them.
They were patient in their play, but also had far more intensity in their game and far more intent in their attacks than we’ve seen any time recently.
Lukaku just missed with a header after excellent wing play by Ziyech, while Saul and Jorginho completely dominated the midfield areas. By the time the half-time whistle blew, Spurs hadn’t had a single attempt on goal, had just four touches in the Chelsea box and had just 31% possession.
The second half was much less eventful, with the Blues happy to manage the lead with Spurs not carrying a threat but the performance as a whole was a sign of Chelsea’s potential under Tuchel.
The 3-4-3 has gone stale recently and their attacking potential was limited in that shape anyway. They now have proven that they have the capability to play in a more expansive way with a different system if needs be, and that should strike fear into the rest of the Premier League and Europe.