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Talking Point: How Mourinho has remodelled Tottenham ahead of Chelsea challenge

Wed 18 December 2019 | 14:54

Tottenham can go fourth in the Premier League when they take on Chelsea in a test of the changes Jose Mourinho has made.

Master meets apprentice in the Premier League this weekend as Jose Mourinho and Tottenham entertain Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

Spurs, after taking 12 points from a possible 15 under their new boss, have the chance to climb above their London rivals and into the top four.

Mourinho managed Lampard across two separate stints at Stamford Bridge and will hope to assert his authority after the then-Derby County boss knocked his Manchester United team out of the EFL Cup in September 2018.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have endured a sudden run of losses that leaves them in danger of coming unstuck against opponents who have enjoyed a swift rise since parting ways with Mauricio Pochettino.

Here, we assess Opta data to determine what changes Mourinho has made, and whether there could be problems ahead.


Part of the Mourinho package that must have appealed to Daniel Levy was the Portuguese's ability to organise a defence and eradicate the vulnerabilities that led to results like the 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

The 56-year-old, however, has acted against type in his fourth life as a Premier League boss, releasing the handbrake on a Spurs side that has scored 14 times in five matches under the new regime.

Their return of 2.8 goals per game exceeds the scoring average recorded in each of Pochettino's five full seasons in charge and is double the number managed across the final 12 games he oversaw.

Can it be sustained? Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Harry Kane and company will surely find it difficult to maintain the 58 per cent shooting accuracy that has helped lift the gloom. The closest Spurs came to achieving such sharpness with Pochettino in the manager's seat was the 53 per cent they posted in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Tottenham's number of shots per game has, in fact, dipped significantly since his departure, to 11.8 on average with Mourinho at the helm.

That figure ranks well below the levels set under Pochettino, particularly the 17.6 attempted per 90 minutes in 2016-17 and even the 12.5 that were being unleashed before the managerial change was made this term.

Superficially, the current shot conversion rate of 24 per cent works in Mourinho's favour, but there is a risk of results turning if such clinical finishing reverts to somewhere close to their mean of 11.6 per cent under Pochettino.


Unsurprisingly, Tottenham are now seeing less of the ball than they did under Pochettino, a footballer and coach of the Marcelo Bielsa school.

Mourinho has presided over a decline in average possession to 50 per cent; over the course of a full campaign, his predecessor's teams never averaged less then 59 per cent.

Passing accuracy has naturally become a lower priority as this more functional Spurs side looks to get the ball forward quicker in order to better harness Alli's ingenuity and Son Heung-min's speed.

Near their peak, in the 2016-17 campaign that saw them finish second behind Chelsea, Tottenham were completing over 60 more passes per game.

Mourinho would argue that such statistics are irrelevant on matchday, especially one as important as Sunday.

He might, however, have more time for a review of his record in games against the clubs that have employed him in the past.


Mourinho has demonstrated a well-documented taste for attention throughout his successful managerial career and he will be under the spotlight when the Blues make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Chelsea have hit a slump of four defeats in five Premier League matches at an inopportune time but should take no real fear from their former boss' record against previous employers.

Mourinho has faced old clubs on 33 occasions and won 18 times, losing nine and drawing the other six.

A win percentage of 55 per cent from those matches could do with improving for a man set to face a club that dismissed him twice.

Chelsea, of course, have appeared buoyant under a much-loved figure who recently said he would never manage Tottenham, and will hope to show that Mourinho's Spurs lack substance.

source: SportMob