1.Teams & Formations
The Blues lined up in the accustomed 4-4-1-1 with Jelavic making his debut through the middle supported by Tim Cahill. Seamus Coleman came in –initially on the left – with Drenthe on the right. There was a welcome return for Leon Osman and his twinkling toes in central midfield meaning that Phil Neville shifted to right back. Spurs played 4-4-2 with Modric and Bale on the flanks and Defoe up front with Adebayor.
2. Jelavic Debut
The Blues had the better chances in the first half and were very aggressive in winning the ball back in Spurs half. Jelavic was ace and had one of the most promising debuts seen at L4 in a long while. On early viewing he appears to be the striker both we and Moyes have craved in ages; he has a thirst for getting in the box and burying chances and is also more than willing to ‘put in a shift’ and lead the line with good movement both inside and outside the box.
This defensive side of his game was particularly good with many longer passes being played in his general zone made to look like great passes given the Croatian’s movement, chest control and winning 3 aerial duels – one of which setup an excellent chance for Fellaini prior to his goal. He likes to get the ball and shift it onto his right at every opportunity and the goal was an example of how potent he is in the 18 yard box. Baines threaded a superb ball to Leon Osman who did some great work on the left, skinning Kaboul with some nice touches with his right and then threading a delicious through ball with his left which the Croatian (circled below) creates space from his marker Ledley King and cushions the ball out of the reach of Freidel and into the bottom corner.
Ledley King has Jelavic (circled) in close proximity as Osman (arrow) advances into the box…
Jelavic pulls back into the space as Ledley King is attracted to the ball giving him the space to slot.
3.Bale v Coleman Part Two
Last season at White Hart Lane Seamus Coleman was assigned a marking brief from right midfield to track Bale’s runs down the left flank. The ploy of him and Neville doubling up on the Welshman worked well and there was a development of that here. Spurs key danger man Bale started on the right and Coleman, despite being generally uncomfortable with his left foot and having only played about 15 mins away at St James on the left side in his Blues career was moved across to track Bale and support Baines– a seemingly deliberate move.
First Bale took up position on the right, with Coleman (circled) doubling up on him with Baines and blocking off the angle to cut inside on his left foot making him go on his weaker right
With the right flank shutdown Bale swaps to the left flank (circled) towards the end of the first half but Coleman moves across also and doubles up with Neville instead (circled)
Playing on the right, Bale would look to cut in on his left but Coleman’s positional play was such that he blocked off the inside and showed him on his weaker right. It was interesting that whenever Bale swapped flanks with Modric, Coleman and Drenthe followed suit so Coleman was always within 10 yards of Bale. The Irishman has his limitation on the ball but is a real grafter and did this job superbly – no outfield player made more tackles or interceptions combined (7) as Coleman, (3 tackles, 4 interceptions) in total. After the game Arry pointed to the fact that Bale playing right side penned Baines back – true in that Baines was subdued in terms of not making any crosses which is an area he is usually prolific – but our full back still made the most touches (77) of any of our players and was instrumental in the winning goal.
4.Blues sit deep and grind out.
The second half witnessed Spurs throwing ‘the kitchen sink’ at the Blues, with their share of possessions swelling to 62%. The Blues visibly stopped pressing Spurs higher up field and only began to engage when they got to 40 yards from our goal, seemingly happy to see out the 1-0. Modric – who was periphery on the flank – came to life more playing inside and there was more of a flow to Spurs play in the second period as our play became quite disjointed and we struggled to keep the ball. The last 20 minutes seemed like an age as the Blues dropped deeper and deeper and were now lacking the outball of Drenthe over the top as the Dutchman was replaced by Rodwell with Osman – who looked shattered by the end – slotting onto the right flank.
Spurs had some chances but the sheer volume of players we put between them and Howard meant that clear cut chances were virtually non existent. Saha – who had more of a spring in his step than had been seen at Goodison in his last 12 months at the club– had one opportunity whilst Defoe had seemingly countless chances to pull Spurs level. The final whistle signalled that it was just short of 7 hours since the Blues last conceded a goal at Goodison, with Chelsea, Man City and now Spurs included in that run of shutouts.
5. Final Thought
This was a fantastic result for the Blues against a Spurs side who have played some great football this season. Ungracious Arry pointed to the fact that Spurs ‘battered us non stop’ but to be fair we were more than a match for Spurs when we needed a goal up til half time and the sides had the same amount of shots on target (5) over 90 minutes. If Arry was as ruthless with his homework as he is at going back on gentlemen’s agreements he’d see that we only usually need 1 goal to win games at Goodison and despite controlling the ball for long periods Spurs lacked the subtlety to break down what is an extremely dogged and belligerent squad of players when they have the bit between their teeth. It was a fitting end to a game which marked the 10th anniversary of David Moyes tenure and the game provided a microcosm of the key themes which have marked his reign; defensive solidity, organisation, hard work and gaining a tactical advantage where all available in abundance here…plus a match winning goal by a shrewd buy. Lovely stuff!