Former Tottenham midfielder highlights the unsung hero of Spurs’ draw at Chelsea
ottenham’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea may have felt a little flat following the fireworks of last weekend’s win over Manchester City but it highlighted differing qualities of Jose Mourinho’s side.
Spurs denied and frustrated Chelsea’s free-scoring attack at Stamford Bridge and central to that was not a defender but the role of Moussa Sissoko.
As highlighted by former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas on Match of the Day, Sissoko’s superb coverage of space just in front of his own defensive third provided an additional layer of security for his teammates.
It rendered a potentially dangerous match-up redundant as the concern of Timo Werner exploiting space in behind right-back Serge Aurier as he attacked, proved irrelevant, due to Sissoko’s awareness, energy and diligence in denying the hosts.
Werner’s pace and willingness to run off the shoulder and into space could have left Spurs vulnerable on the counter but Sissoko was regularly on hand to step across and thwart any transition.
“They were nowhere near their best but the role Moussa Sissoko has played in the last few games, he is having a positive impact on those around him, and today I think it was Serge Aurier and Joe Rodon,” Jenas said on Match of the Day.
“Where he simplifies things for Aurier is that he (Aurier) has one thing on his mind and that’s going to mark wide.
“What we would have worried about before is getting exposed in behind and usually, one ball in behind and Timo Werner is off.
“But look at what happens, Moussa Sissoko has not left him. He is simplifying the game for Aurier because he is saying ‘you go to him and I’ll take care of Werner’.
“That is players understanding how to play together to keep teams from your goal.”
His presence also helped Joe Rodon on his full Premier League debut with Sissoko acting almost as an auxiliary sweeper, allowing the Wales international to mark Tammy Abraham knowing he had cover.
Sissoko’s individual statistics didn’t bear witness to an outstanding performance as he failed to complete a tackle, interception and completed just 69 per cent of his 29 passes.
But it was his positioning and unseen impact that had a positive effect on his teammates, giving them confidence to focus on their own game.
“He also helps Rodon because he can just think, ‘actually, I can go and mark Abraham now’,” Jenas added.
“He (Sissoko) was always there in that pocket of space. He was always on Werner and he was a nightmare for Chelsea.”