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Tottenham Hotspur

This is why the 3-4-3 formation can fire Tottenham to success this season

Tottenham's Eric Dier in action with Chelsea's Diego Costa

Spurs have adopted the formation that has seen Chelsea impress this season, and they may have the tools to make it work even better than their rivals.

 

Tottenham Hotspur have employed a 3-4-3 formation for the last three games, which has seen Mauricio Pochettino's side net three wins and concede just one goal. Looking at the Spurs squad quickly illustrates why this formation would work so well for the Argentine, and that perhaps the White Hart Lane outfit have the players to put this tactic to use better than any other team in the league - even the league leaders who championed it. 

Chelsea have benefitted from three at the back as they look to make the most out of David Luiz - the club's most expensive defender. He has certainly flourished in the middle of the three centre backs, while a number of other players have also impressed despite playing out of position.

Tottenham's Eric Dier in action with Chelsea's Diego CostaTottenham's Eric Dier in action with Chelsea's Diego Costa

Both Victor Moses and Cesar Azpillicueta are famous for their versatility, and have both been a vital part of the Blues' recent winning run. However, against Tottenham the two were among a number who struggled as the North Londoners adopted a formation similar to Antonio Conte's setup, beating them at their own game. 

Put simply, Mauricio Pochettino's first choice eleven fits into the 3-4-3 system more naturally than Conte's. Spurs have arguably the best attacking fullback pair in the league, so important in this formation, and both Danny Rose and Kyle Walker can stay further up the pitch with three central defenders in the side.

In central defence, Tottenham have three players who are able to take turns stepping into midfield, with every one playing midfield and at fullback at some point in their career. Most of Eric Dier's minutes have come in defence this season, and it hasn't always been a smooth return to the position, but he looks stronger in a three than as part of a pair. As a bonus, Kevin Wimmer has a much better chance of football, stepping in for one of the three where necessary.

Tottenham's Victor Wanyama shoots at goalTottenham's Victor Wanyama shoots at goal

Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama are as powerful a central midfield combination as there is in the league, and both can bring the ball forward if necessary.

It is arguably in the forward positions that Chelsea would insist they are a match with what Tottenham have to offer, but even that claim would be challenged by Tottenham fans. The outcome of a debate comparing Eden Hazard and Diego Costa with Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane will likely fall on whether you are a Blue or a Lilywhite. But Spurs have Dele Alli up their sleeve, an all-round, combative attacking midfielder who can fill in for Kane - as he did so effectively against Chelsea - even if at times he struggled to get in the game.

Of course, it is worth underlining that Tottenham's strength with this formation comes in part from the way they played last season, when Eric Dier would often drop back from midfield to make a three at the back when the fullbacks would push on, essentially adapting the 3-4-3 when necessary.

Chelsea may have really pushed the 3-4-3 formation this season, but it could well be Tottenham who take the tactic and flourish utilising it.

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