Premier League Tactical Preview: Chelsea can beat Man City

Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola
The dress rehearsal for the Champions League final could go Chelsea's way

Alex Keble assesses the tactical battles in the weekend Premier League games, suggesting that Tottenham can continue their good form at Leeds...

"The battle between N’Golo Kante, who begins the counters by evading the first wave of the press, and Fernandinho, the destroyer who played a crucial role against Paris Saint-Germain, will define the game."

Mason's Poch-like attacks can disrupt Bielsa

Leeds United v Tottenham
Saturday, 12:30
Live on BT Sport 1

Although Sheffield United were extremely accommodating, the 4-0 victory last weekend was our first look at the tactical strategy Ryan Mason wants to instil at Spurs; the Southampton win had too much hesitancy and Mourinho-y caution, reflecting the fact he had only just left the club, while the League Cup final was always going to be dominated by Manchester City. It looks as though Mason will be implementing some classic Pochettino methods.

Toby Alderwiereld played lots of raking diagonals as Spurs looked to attack quickly in vertical lines, while their high defensive line and ultra-advanced full-backs also recalled the best of Pochettino. Furthermore, with Sergio Reguilon and Serge Aurier providing the width, the Spurs wingers cut inside to provide multiple options in the half-space - as Dele Alli looked to advance beyond Karry Kane.

That is the right way to beat Leeds United. As Arsenal showed in a chaotic 4-2 win against Marcelo Bielsa's side in February, Leeds' man-to-man marking system and expansive, hard-pressing shape tends to collapse when facing superior opponents who simply run straight at them. The free movement of Gareth Bale, Heung-Min Son, and Dele will pull Leeds around, undermining their attempts to push up.

Werner-led counters can unlock cautious game

Man City v Chelsea
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel have been cautious in 'Big Six' matches recently, and with both teams exceptionally well organised when in possession this points to a rather cagey game. Neither will press high, neither will leave defensive gaps, and neither will take concerted risks to get forward while on the ball. However, that does not mean we are heading for a 0-0.

Chelsea's counter-attacking and counter-pressing abilities have increased dramatically over the last six weeks as Tuchel takes this team to the next level: the solid defensive foundation is in place, paving the way for some complex counters built through Timo Werner - dropping expertly between opposition lines - and some intelligent dribbling from Mason Mount and Kai Havertz or Christian Pulisic.

There won't be many opportunities for Chelsea to hit City on the break, such is Guardiola's ability to control games with inverted full-backs, but in rare opportunities when the hosts are a little stretched Chelsea ought to be able to weave through the middle. The battle between N'Golo Kante, who begins the counters by evading the first wave of the press, and Fernandinho, the destroyer who played a crucial role against Paris Saint-Germain, will define the game.

Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea boss.jpg

Klopp's 4-2-4 the right strategy to beat Saints

Liverpool v Southampton
Saturday, 20:15
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Although missed chances in the first half ultimately led to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Newcastle United, Jurgen Klopp must prevail with the 4-2-4 formation he deployed from the outset. Liverpool have needed a tactical shaking up for some time, the attacking lines having become far too predictable, and the switch was effective in providing Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino - effectively playing as dual false nines - with passes through the Newcastle midfield.

Southampton's 4-4-2 formation is even more vulnerable to Liverpool's new shape. Ralph Hasenhuttl's two-man midfield should find it just as difficult as Newcastle to block those passes into Firmino and Jota, which will draw the visitors infield - and create a secondary problem on the flanks, where Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold can flourish.

Saints' wingers look to break as quickly as possible, which means when Liverpool lose the ball they start to move. If Liverpool then quickly shut that counter down, Southampton will be left under-stocked in the wide areas, giving the full-backs an opportunity to put the ball into the box towards the four Liverpool forwards.

Benrahma can help burst through weak midfield

West Ham v Everton
Sunday, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Said Benrahma has finally landed in east London. The former Brentford player showed why West Ham paid £21 million for him with an excellent first-half performance in the 2-1 victory over Burnley, in which he repeatedly beat right-back Matthew Lowton on the dribble (as ahead of assisting the winner) but also, crucially, dipped into central areas to help Manuel Lanzini and Jesse Lingard.

It is this move that should give West Ham the edge in this fixture. Everton continue to look weak in central midfield without the injured Abdoulaye Doucoure as opponents simply run through a flat-footed and under-coached team. Carlo Ancelotti doesn't give detailed enough instruction to his midfield players, creating an ambling shape in which more structured opponents can flourish.

As Benrahma cuts inside to join Lingard and Lanzini, West Ham will have all the firepower they need to get balls into the box towards the in-form Michail Antonio.

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