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Vertonghen strength can stop Chelsea dribblers

Sky Sports 30 Mar 2018
Jan Vertonghen, Spurs

Sky Sports on why Spurs defender will be tough to beat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur in a crucial match in the race for a top-four spot.

The Spurs defence, marshalled by Jan Vertonghen, has been integral to their current 12-match unbeaten run.

Mauricio Pochettino's side have conceded five goals this calendar year, fewer than any other Premier League side, including just one goal in the last six hours on the pitch.

Reducing the influence of Eden Hazard will be key to continuing that run. It is something they did successfully last season, restricting him to just a single shot on target, and far fewer touches in the penalty area.

Hazard's inability to dribble past as many defenders also coincided with fewer chances created.

Hazard last season per 90 mins
v Spurs 2016/17 v other top six sides
1.1 Chances created 1.8
2.2 Successful dribbles 4.4
0.5 Shots on target 1.1
2.7 Touches in opp. box 4.5

Vertonghen, who spent the past week training with Hazard for the Belgium national side, will have played a prominent role in this.

The central defender is one of the hardest players to dribble past at Spurs, and indeed in the Premier League. He has been beaten on only 10 occasions this season, fewer than any of the competition's top 69 tacklers.

He also has the highest success rate of any player to have made 50 or more tackles this season, making him the ideal opponent to nullify Hazard's main strength.

Spurs defenders in 2017/18
Player Tackles Times dribbled past
Vertonghen 53 10
Dier 47 23
Aurier 45 19
Trippier 41 19
Davies 39 19
Sanchez 34 17

Antonio Conte may attempt to limit the pair's exchanges and start Hazard from the left, taking on defenders more susceptible to his dribbling.

In that case, Vertonghen's role would become more about reading Hazard's final ball and intercepting or clearing the danger. They are two categories in which he also leads the way for Spurs this season, and did so in each fixture against Chelsea and Hazard in last.

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