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Talking tactics: Gus Poyet on Chelsea v Spurs

Posted on 25 November 2016  - 17:20

Gus Poyet gave his all for Chelsea and Spurs, before joining our coaching team in 2007 and helping us lift the League Cup, coincidently against Chelsea, in 2008. Most recently manager of Real Betis in La Liga, the popular former midfielder is the perfect man to cast a tactical eye over Saturday's latest meeting at the Bridge...

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chelsea_a_gus200Gus Poyet

142 games for Chelsea, 1997-2001
98 games for Spurs, 2001-2004
26 caps for Uruguay

Coach at Spurs 2007-08
Has managed Brighton, Sunderland, AEK and Real Betis

Two key issues...

Gus: "I think there are two key issues. First, how Spurs recover from the midweek disappointment in Europe and then how they will adapt to play against a team with a different system as Chelsea are playing now, the 3-4-3.

"People think that the system shouldn’t be an issue but I can say that it’s a totally different game when you are used to playing week in, week out against a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 and then you find yourself in a very special game like  this against a back three. Chelsea are finding this system great for them and quick adaptation of Spurs to this situation is very important."

Below: Gus on target for Spurs at City, 2002

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The wide areas

How important are the wide areas when one team is deploying a 3-4-3 system? Gus: "It is important both ways depending on your system. For example, if you play with two players wide then it means that switching the ball quickly from side to side would allow you to attack down one flank with superiority, two against one, which gives great possibilities of finishing the offensive actions very well. However, if you play, for example, a diamond (in midfield) in a 4-4-2 system, then that possibility disappears."

Below: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

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Costa and Hazard

Asked if there was a particular area or key battle that could prove decisive, Gus replied: "I don’t think it could be only one area or one battle but with no doubts I think that Spurs need to stop Hazard and Costa. If they can keep those players quiet, part of the game is sorted."

Below: Gus with Juande Ramos, coaching at Spurs, 2007  

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Gus on Mauricio

Gus faced Mauricio Pochettino on a number of occasions during their time in La Liga. Mauricio played for Espanyol between 1994-2001 (and a second spell, 2003-06) while Gus plied his trade at Real Zaragoza between 1990-97. "Yes, I did play against Mauricio when I was a Zaragoza and he was at Espanol de Barcelona. I remember the duels as difficult ones, he was a very strong defender and I needed to get in the box to attack the ball, so we had some strong encounters but respected each other very well."

Below: Mauricio Pochettino

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'He identifies himself with the Club'

Gus: "Mauricio has done incredibly well at Spurs. I’m very happy for him and for Spurs of course, he's slowly created something different, well recognised by the fans and he keeps bringing young talents from the Academy which is fantastic for any Club. He identifies himself with the Club totally and that helps a lot to get good results. I hope he can give Spurs fans that precious Premier League trophy in the coming years."