Chelsea vs. Tottenham: 6 Lessons Learned from the EPL Draw

Mohamed Al-Hendy@Mo_HendyCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2012

Chelsea vs. Tottenham: 6 Lessons Learned from the EPL Draw

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    Despite the hype and build-up, Chelsea and Tottenham disappointed EPL fans with a 0-0 draw.

    To be sure, there were a good number of goal-scoring opportunities for both sides, and had their defenses not been so superb today, this could've easily been a game with three or four goals.

    But, it wasn't, and though neither team will feel too aggrieved with the result, neither team should be pleased either.

    Neither team looked like a team worthy of representing England in the Champions League next year, and Arsenal continued their inspirational form with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa, opening up a bigger gap over their London rivals.

    There were many lessons to be learned for both teams. Let's break down the fixes and improvements that need to be made for both teams in future games. 

Tottenham Need a Right Midfielder in the Summer

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    For all the talent and star power in Tottenham's squad and starting lineups, the right midfielder/winger position has given Tottenham an immense amount of trouble this season.

    When Lennon's fit, he's first-choice and provides Tottenham with much greater width and an extra attacking outlet on the right.

    But in his absence, Tottenham's offense loses so much. Niko Kranjcar has generally done a decent job when asked to deputize for Lennon, but Redknapp has apparently grown tired of his slower, cutting-in approach to the game from out wide.

    He's tried Luka Modric on the left with Gareth Bale on the right, but Modric has proven time and again how weak his game is out wide, and Bale has shown that he's unable to perform when moved out of his comfort zone on the left.

    Van der Vaart was the man asked to take up the right midfielder spot today, and though he was not bad, playing out wide seriously hurt his effectiveness. He was not able to link up with Adebayor as much as he would've liked and was very infrequently involved in Tottenham's play.

    His double-chance at the end of the first half provided him with an opportunity to play the hero role for Tottenham, but that would've been a lucky break for VDV more than anything as he received the ball off a fortunate deflection from a Modric's cross into the box.

Fernando Torres Still Unfortunately Does Not Have the Faith of His Manager

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    I thought that after his brace of goals and assists against Leicester, Torres would be afforded all the playing time in the world to become the striker he once was.

    But it appears that Roberto Di Matteo is still playing a very cautious game and unwilling to risk getting a bad game from Torres once again.

    I suppose hindsight is 20/20, but looking in hindsight, Torres would've definitely produced more than Drogba did over 90 minutes.

    In his short time on the pitch, Torres hustled, muscled and bustled around the ball, creating chances out of nothing and feeding off whatever scrap he was afforded as Tottenham's midfield began to take control of the game.

    Contrast that with Drogba, who hardly did anything right all game long. From the confusion with Lampard early on to a poorly-taken chip at the end of the game, Drogba was badly off-form from start to finish.

    If RDM wants to keep his top-four hopes alive and wants to stay in the Champions League beyond this round, giving Torres much more playing time is a must. This "you'll only play if you score every game" attitude must stop, and Torres must be judged on his overall performances.

Adebayor Still Not Clinical

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    Though people may disagree, Adebayor had a solid game for Tottenham. Despite finding himself frequently isolated, his hold-up play and runs on the ball were top quality and created many chances for Tottenham.

    The problem, unfortunately, is that his final ball consistently let him down. Whether passing to find an unmarked player in the box or finishing after rounding the keeper, Adebayor wasted chances that most mid-level strikers of the EPL would convert.

    Gary Cahill did great to recover on Adebayor's shot and clear it after he rounded the keeper, but in truth, Adebayor put way too little behind that shot.

    Similarly, after racing past Bosingwa in the first half, Adebayor's pass to Walker was not only poorly made, but also probably the hardest of about four options he could've taken to create a goal in that scenario.

    And that's not counting his poorly taken headers off VDV's rebounded shot in the first half and Gareth Bale's in the second.

    Adebayor could afford to be wasteful early in the season when Tottenham's offense was flowing and goal-scoring chances were available in bulk.

    But as they seek to put this run of bad form behind them, they desperately need Adebayor to improve his poaching abilities and score the many half-chances he receives.

John Terry and Gary Cahill Have Good Chemistry

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    It's always a good decision to bring two international teammates to play on the same team. It works with Barcelona, worked with Real Madrid in the past and may not be working for Chelsea.

    To be fair, the John Terry-Gary Cahill partnership has looked weak on many occasions. But that was usually under Andre Villas-Boas, whose defensive system made the best of defenders look weak.

    Gary Cahill made at least a couple of mistakes against Tottenham, as he himself would admit in his post-game interview.

    However, one of his mistakes, which was stepping up prior to Adebayor's rounding of Petr Cech, was well amended when he raced back to block Adebayor's goal-bound shot with nothing between him and the net.

    Aside from that, Gary Cahill stood tall alongside John Terry, and his passing allowed him to get involved in his team's offense as well.

    As for John Terry, he did what John Terry always does: He stood tall and strong and dealt with practically everything Tottenham threw at him.

    One game against an off-form Tottenham won't be enough to confirm the credibility of the Cahill-Terry partnership, but it most certainly is a good building block for the England pair.

Gareth Bale's Still the Difference Maker

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    Gareth Bale did not have a vintage Bale performance. He spent most of the first half in anonymity and only grew into the game in the second half when his trademark runs at the defense started to come back into his game.

    When those runs returned, so did Tottenham's dominance. Near the end of the game, Tottenham began to impose their will on the game and were very unfortunate not to grab the winner through the plethora of chances created through Bale and others.

    They say that if you want something done right, the best way to get it done is to do it yourself. As such, if Bale wants Tottenham to break out of their funk, the best way to do it is to simply force himself on the scoresheet, as he has done numerous times this season.

    Once that happens, I fully expect a flood of Tottenham goals to come in, and I expect that Tottenham's drought of points will finally come to an end.

Tottenham Need a Better Bench or to Better Utlilize Their Subs

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    Chelsea's substitutes today were David Luiz, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou. The likes of Florent Malouda and Raul Meireles were forced to be content with not even coming off the bench.

    Meanwhile, Tottenham's substitutes were Jake Livermore and Louis Saha. Niko Kranjcar and Jermain Defoe were left on the bench, but there wasn't much more quality to choose from in the match-day squad.

    I don't mean to over-glorify veterans like Malouda who are at the end of their careers, nor do I mean to discredit Livermore or Saha too greatly.

    But the fact is that neither Livermore nor Saha were what was needed against Chelsea.

    Saha is renowned for his inability to impact a game as a substitute. He'll work hard as he did against Chelsea, but a record of four goals in 35 substitute appearances since leaving Manchester United indicates he's hardly the super-sub type.

    And bringing Livermore on with your team chasing the game is pointless. It was a like for like substitution, so I won't criticize Redknapp too hard for it, but really, you want to be able to bring a game-changer on late in the game, not someone who won't make a noticeable difference in the game.

    Torres for Chelsea looked good in his early minutes and probably could've threatened Tottenham's goal at least a couple times if Bale and Modric didn't turn up the heat on Chelsea in the final minutes of the game.

    If Redknapp doesn't rate Defoe or Kranjcar too highly as subs, no problem, but either play them or find new dangerous players in the summer to make a difference late in the game, because Saha and Livermore aren't going to cut it.

Better Result for Tottenham Than Chelsea

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    I've already discussed the value of this draw for both teams on both my live blog and my predictions for this game, so I won't rehash all that here.

    Suffice it to say that Chelsea, with their difficult schedule as compared with Tottenham, have their work cut out for them if they want to make the Champions League.

    What'd you learn from today's game? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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