Premier League Tactical Preview: Tuchel's Chelsea to enjoy winning start

Thomas Tuchel
Tuchel's Chelsea have a relatively simple start...

For Premier League Gameweek 20 Alex Keble picks out four key tactical battles and says the new Chelsea manager should be able to get past Wolves, while Liverpool may lose again...

"If Werner and Havertz play with freedom, and assuming Chelsea enjoy a small new-manager bounce, the Wolves’ clumsy form will continue. "

Arsenal youngsters to ensure open game

Southampton v Arsenal
Tuesday, 20:15
Live on BT Sport 1

This should be a really entertaining game. The return of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to the first team will bring back the quick-tempo, and narrow, attacking interplay that has defined Arsenal throughout their latest good run of form. Alexandre Lacazette drops off the front to join these two, and with Gabriel Martinelli dipping in from the left (he will deputise for the injured Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) Arsenal can overwhelm Southampton's midfield two for periods of the game.

Both sides like to counter-press and neither wants to hold onto the ball in midfield for too long, while Southampton's 4-2-2-2 leaves James Ward-Prowse and Ibrahima Diallo on their own during attacks; if Arsenal break against them, those young players can flourish. However, there is danger in trusting the academy graduates, and we should not forget that Arsenal have enjoyed a very easy run of games recently.

It is likely that the young forwards will struggle to maintain their defensive shape, giving Southampton the chance to counter well, winning the ball high (as they did for the winning goal in the FA Cup) and finding space on the outside of Arsenal's central midfield. Stuart Armstrong and Theo Walcott will cut inside to overwhelm the middle and play quick passes through a high defensive line for Danny Ings. Goals at both ends is likely.

Reset Chelsea can deepen Wolves' poor form

Chelsea v Wolves
Wednesday, 18:00
Live on BT Sport 1

At the time of writing Thomas Tuchel is the odds-on favourite to become Chelsea's next manager. Ge may or may not be in the dugout for this game, but either way Chelsea are likely to feel somewhat refreshed by the change. Reports indicate Frank Lampard had lost part of the dressing room, failed to communicate with players, and had largely given up on trying to integrate new signings that were not his choices. That could mean Kai Havertz and Timo Werner find a new gear for Wednesday's game.

Wolves are a good team to face at the moment. They have gone six games without a win, largely because Nuno Esperito Santo is frequently changing formation, and at present it looks as though a 4-2-3-1 will be used for the trip to Stamford Bridge. Conor Coady in particular is struggling in a back four, although in truth there are errors all over the place, and that may give Chelsea the chance to recapture some attacking form.

Hakim Ziyech will be buoyed by Coady's errors, while Tammy Abraham's hat-trick in the FA Cup suggests he may similarly find space in the penalty area. If Werner and Havertz play with freedom, and assuming Chelsea enjoy a small new-manager bounce, the Wolves' clumsy form will continue.

Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves manager.jpg

Barnes and Costagne to take advantage of James selection

Everton v Leicester
Wednesday, 20:15
Live on BT Sport 2

James Rodriguez has performed well in Everton's last two games, against Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves, which means he will probably start this game on the right wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, James has previously struggled defensively in this role, failing to track back adequately, leading to numerous concessions before Carlo Ancelotti switched to a 3-4-3 to strengthen that flank.

Now back in a 4-2-3-1, the selection of James here will offer an opportunity for Timothy Castagne (back on the left now Ricardo Pereira is available for selection) and Harvey Barnes to overwhelm right-back Seamus Coleman. Leicester are superb at cutting vertical passes through the lines, while Barnes in particular excels a finding pockets of space behind the opposition right winger. He should get plenty of opportunities to bear down on the Everton back line.

What's more, the form of Youri Tielemans is a concern for an Everton midfield still missing Allan. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes are both vulnerable to the energy and incision of Tielemans' passing centrally; James Maddison, combining with a freed-up Barnes, can win Leicester the three points.

Spurs can repeat Man Utd's success

Tottenham v Liverpool
Thursday, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1

Manchester United's 3-2 win in the FA Cup offers good insight into what will happen on Thursday evening for two main reasons. First, Liverpool's back line struggled to cope with the movement of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, and second Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah returned to form. Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp, that second point does not negate the first but rather compounds their problems at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

In the long run, it is good to see Firmino back to his best and Salah benefitting from that, while the opportunity to give Sadio Mane a rest at the weekend should mean all three forwards are firing on Thursday. However, dominance from the visitors will force Tottenham deeper to defend more doggedly. That will lead to a territorial battle in which there is far more room on the counter-attack for Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.

Rhys Williams didn't have the best of games at Old Trafford and he may again be in for a hard time up against Son. Kane's ability to drop between the lines and create for his strike partner will, as ever, be crucial, and with the Liverpool midfield so badly weakened he has a good chance of success.

Fabinho will again play at the back, leaving the visitors without a defensive midfielder. Kane should dominate the game and lead Spurs to an important win.

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