By Harry Sykes
Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that Chelsea were not the pioneers of the three-man defensive system that is catapulting them to the Premier League title.
Antonio Conte’s side had mixed results at the start of the season before the manager binned the 4-2-3-1 formation and replaced it with a 3-4-2-1 that enabled him to use three centre-backs and deploy Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso as wing-backs.
It has paid huge dividends and Chelsea have built up a seemingly unassailable 10-point lead at the top of the league, with Spurs their closes challengers.
Pochettino questioned whether the west London club, who are bitter rivals of Spurs, broke ground with their system and insisted that he has been using it for the last two seasons through the positioning of the versatile Eric Dier.
The Tottenham manager explained how he had built a system that allowed the England international to play at both defence and midfield in the same match.
Dier has generally been playing at centre-back this season, after mainly playing in defensive midfield last year.
Pochettino spoke warmly about his versatility on Thursday, while not missing the opportunity to say how it was his own managerial imagination that made him an imposing midfielder.
“People say now Chelsea changed the system. No, we played always the three in possession,” said Pochettino, as quoted by the Independent.
“In the summer , we were looking for a midfielder and we had plenty of options but I decided to play him in midfield. I created a system that he felt comfortable in.
“[Dier] played as a midfielder without the ball, with the ball he was a third centre back. You can see in possession he dropped in between the centre-backs, or between the full back and the centre back. Always we play with three [centre-backs].”
Dier is likely to be in the Spurs side that resume Premier League action on Saturday when they travel to Burnley hoping to keep their slim title hopes alive.
In other Tottenham news, the London giants have won the race to sign a 32-goal striker who has taken the league by storm.