Poor First 45 mins have cost Spurs CL football

Chelsea vs Spurs is a tie normally to savour although we did have a period where we didn't expect to get anything so is this a game to savour or a game to dread? The team second in the table on home form vs the team top of the table on away form.

Chelsea vs Tottenham
Chelsea vs Tottenham Saturday 8th 2014
Spurs record at Stamford Bridge is not great, we haven't won there since 1990 when Gary Lineker scored the winner. Chelsea are unbeaten at home under Jose Mourhino this season and  have lost only 3 league games.

Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela, Danny Rose and Etienne Capoue are all injured or recovering from injury and not yet ready, whilst four other players are facing a battle to be fit, Kyle Walker, Zeki Fryers, Younes Kaboul and Christian Eriksen.

At to that that Paulinho is running on empty and poor performances are becoming regular, even if only for a half so Tottenham's task appears bigger and bigger.

Spurs have the second best defensive record away from home in the league, only bettered by Chelsea, however Chelsea also have the second best defensive record in the league at home. The Spurs attack is the sixth best in the league away from home, whilst Chelsea's attack is the third best in the league at home.

Tim Sherwood chops and changes his system depending on who is available and the opposition but that is not helping the players in the least and creating chances has become a bit of a luxury.

March is a month when players have to stand up and be counted beginning on Saturday. There is hope though, Spurs sit top of the table on away form. A point is a minimum requirement but against the top 6 we have fallen consistently short.

Hugo Lloris, Dawson and Vertonghen pick themselves. Walker will have a late fitness teat as will Zeki Fryers. If Walker makes it Naughton is likely to move to left-back. Of course if Younes Kaboul makes it then one option is to move Vertonghen to left-back.

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In midfield Lennon is likely to start with Dembele and Sandro. Christian Eriksen is not now expected to be fit, he has a back muscle problem so Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli or spring a surprise with Gylfi Sigurdsson starting on the left. Sherwood has options depending on whether he plays one or two up front.

Emmanuel Adebayor will obviously start so it boils down to a choice between Paulinho or Soldado, a four or five man midfield.

There is a chance of course that Adebayor, Soldado and Paulinho all play, Dembele moves to the right and Lennon switches to the left, an option Sherwood has used before.

Whichever way Sherwood decides it will be tough but a five man midfield will stop us getting overrun by Chelsea's attacking threat.

We tend to play to keep it at 0-0 it seems at half-time so let's have a look at the top of the league table on first half form. There is quite a difference between Liverpool at the top and ourselves which rather demonstrates our negative starting approach this season.

First-Half Premier League Table
Standing, Team, Played, Won, Drawn, Lost, Points

1. Liverpool   28 19  5 4 62
2. Man City   26 15  8 3 53
3. Chelsea   28 13 12 3 51
4. Arsenal     28 11 12 5 45
5. Newcastle 28 10 10 8 40
6. Hull City    28  9 12 7 39
7. SPURS     28  8 14 6 38

Second-Half Premier League Table
1. Arsenal    28 16  8 4 56
2. Man City  26 15  8 3 53
3. SPURS    28 15  7 6 52
4. Chelsea  28 12 12 4 48
5. Everton   27 11 10 6 43
6. Man Utd  27 11  9 7 42
7. Liverpool 28 11  9 8 42

The tables don't lie, 14 games drawing at half-time doesn't suggest we are going out to win games in the first-half whereas Liverpool have been winning 19 times in that period. The points difference is startling. Liverpool therefore have easier second halves and ours are more more difficult having to chase the game.

Taking that a step further to compare half-time home form vs away form we have:

First-Half Home Only Premier League Table
Standing, Team, Played, Won, Drawn, Lost, Points

1.  Liverpool 14 12 1 1 37
2.  Man City      13   9 3 1 30
3.  Chelsea       14   8 5 1 29
4.  Arsenal         14   7 7 0 28
5.  Hull City        14   5 8 1 23
6.  Everton         13 6 4 3 22
7.  C Palace        14 5 6 3 21
8.  Man Utd        13 5 5 3 20
9.  Southampton 14 4 7 3 19
10. Newcastle U 14 4 7 3 19
11. SPURS         14 4 7 3 19

First-Half Away Only Premier League Table
1. Liverpool       14 7 4 3 25
2. Man City       13 6 5 2 23
3. Chelsea 14 5 7 2 22
4. Aston Villa 14 5 7 2 22
5. Newcastle U 14 6 3 5 21
6. SPURS         14 4 7 3 19
7. Man Utd        14 4 5 5 17

Away from home we have been drawing 50% of our games, yet we climb 6 places to sit top on away form after 90 minutes so we clearly improve for a half-time orange, they don't have those any more on Sunday football do they?

Chelsea third in the table on half-time home form, only being behind on one occasion. Again the reason Liverpool are doing so well this year is clear, they have been winning games at half-time more than any other side, both home and away.

A different approach in the first-half would surely have meant a better season than the one we are having, the top four are winning because they are winning at half-time with the quality to make that count.

We had this approach under Harry Redknapp and under Andre Villas-Boas, it seems to be the same under Tim Sherwood although I must be honest I haven't checked the stats on that one.

We are the only team in the Premier League not to have scored in the opening 15 minutes I believe which again backs up the point.

If we are not going to change that approach then we need to be hoping for a draw at half-time.

The provisional Spurs squad: Lloris, Friedel, Walker, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Kaboul, Fryers, Veljkovic, Dembele, Sandro, Lennon, Bentaleb, Paulinho, Chadli, Townsend, Sigurdsson, Adebayor, Soldado, Kane.



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