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How Frank Lampard’s formation can change the shape of Chelsea vs Tottenham and the top five race

The last time Chelsea faced Tottenham Hotspur, in north London the Sunday before Christmas, Frank Lampard was hailed as a tactical genius.

His decision to play a three-man defence caught Spurs by surprise and paved the way for a win that was far more emphatic than the 2-0 scoreline suggested.

For the players and coaching staff it felt like a landmark moment in which they had proven they were capable of thriving on the big stage.

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It was their first win against another member of the big six and the level of performance and game plan execution were on a higher level to everything that had gone before.

Except Chelsea have not come close to repeating that standard since.

They have won just two of their past eight Premier League games and the form table for that spell has the Blues in 13th position, behind two sides in the actual bottom four.

Spurs, on the other hand, are third since Christmas, trailing only Liverpool and Everton. The visitors must unquestionably be considered favourites on Saturday lunchtime.

But Lampard has a big call to make for a game that is far more important than that reverse meeting. Does he revert to the system that served them so well in N17?

Jose Mourinho does not seem likely to be fooled again and Chelsea have also not used that formation since a nightmare opening 45 minutes away to Arsenal, a game in which they came from behind to win after preying on the Gunners’ frailties in Mikel Arteta’s first home game.

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Lampard acted decisively by hooking Emerson Palmieri within 34 minutes at the Emirates Stadium and although the head coach refused to blame tactics for their shocking start, Chelsea have only played with a back four since.

“I don’t think we got it wrong because when you go and play as you did at Tottenham last week, I’d have questioned my sanity if I…

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