Mauricio Pochettino shows how it is possible to beat Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation | Michael Cox

Tottenham’s coach has made his reputation as a master tactician and he showed why when his side stalled the Chelsea juggernaut with a 2-0 home win

Mauricio Pochettino has earned a reputation as a fine tactician, and this was a very impressive strategic performance by the Tottenham Hotspur coach against Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system – the first time anyone has truly outwitted Chelsea in that shape.

Since Conte switched to 3-4-3 after a 3-0 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in September, Chelsea had won all 13 league matches, and had been so utterly dominant that opposition managers have found themselves terrified of playing their regular system for fear of being torn apart. The problem, though, is that no one had actually worked out which alternative shape to deploy either, and the most dramatic change in system from an opposition coach – Ronald Koeman sending out his Everton side in a 3-4-3 formation, matching Chelsea across the pitch – resulted in Conte’s most comprehensive Premier League victory, 5-0. Pochettino’s decision to use a 3-4-3 of his own, therefore, was a very brave move – although the 4-1 weekend win over Watford in that shape proved very useful preparation.

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