Are Tottenham asking for trouble or is there method to the madness? Our experts MARTIN KEOWN and CHRIS SUTTON have their say on Ange Postecoglou’s amazing high line
Ange Postecoglou insisted he will never change his attacking mentality and philosophy at Tottenham after his bold tactics were questioned in the heavy defeat by rivals Chelsea.
In a frenetic affair, Spurs were reduced to nine men following red cards for Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie against London rivals Chelsea.
But despite their two-man disadvantage, Postecoglou instructed his players to keep a remarkable high line, with eight outfield players often at the halfway line.
Indeed, Chelsea ran out 4-1 winners after two late Nicolas Jackson goals in injury time, with questions raised as to whether the Australian should have approached the game differently.
Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton and Martin Keown give their verdict on the bold tactics.
MARTIN KEOWN: I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was asking for trouble
The only reason Tottenham stayed in the game for so long, and didn’t concede six, seven or perhaps even more, was a succession of poor decisions by Chelsea.
It was criminal that Mauricio Pochettino’s men didn’t break down Ange Postecoglou’s high line sooner than the 75th minute, because it was asking for trouble.
Although we saw an incredibly spirited performance, Tottenham’s set-up meant they were there for the taking. Postecoglou had his players standing on the halfway line, trying to play an offside trap and still pressing. All that was required from Chelsea was a properly-weighted pass and a perfectly-timed run in behind the backline, where Spurs had Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Eric Dier, neither of whom are the quickest.
They offered up some inspired defending at times and we saw outstanding goalkeeping from Guglielmo Vicario. But it was only ever going to be a matter of time before they conceded. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but the emphasis was on Chelsea to take advantage and they struggled.
Pochettino was incandescent on the touchline. He wanted the proper pass and the run timed right, so he moved Cole Palmer to a more central position to try to provide that killer ball, while Tottenham’s high line was making it even easier for them by not dropping off at any point to pick up those runners.
Chelsea made hard work of this win against a depleted Tottenham team that was begging to be broken down
Chris Sutton: There’s method to this madness. You may think it’s nuts, but I’m hooked!
I have never seen anything like it, not from a team with nine men. But there is method to this madness.
Ange Postecoglou has unwavering belief in the way he wants his teams to play.
I remember watching as Celtic trailed 5-0 to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, but were still sending seven bodies into the box to try to score — and they did eventually.
It’s all about the bigger picture, maintaining a positive mindset, and that is what we saw on Monday. Tottenham may have been two players shy of Chelsea, but they gave it a go until the very end.
Tottenham had two options once they went down to nine men — sit deep inside their own half and invite Chelsea to gnaw away at them, or push up and go for the kill on the counter-attack themselves.
They had chances to score and that was down to the bravery of their high line.
They wanted to set offside traps and whenever Chelsea played an overhit pass in behind Tottenham’s defence, keeper Guglielmo Vicario was ready to act as a sweeper.
Maybe this is not what you are supposed to do in football traditionally, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and so did Tottenham fans.
It isn’t often a team receive a standing ovation after a 4-1 home defeat by their rivals.
But those supporters appreciated the courage that was shown, knowing that Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea only finally managed to confirm the win in stoppage time.
You might think it’s nuts, but I’ll admit I’m hooked, even if you won’t.