Tottenham Hotspur fell to Chelsea 2-0 on Sunday at a rainy and blustery Wembley Stadium in the finals of the Capital One Cup. Chelsea's two goals came from John Terry and Diego Costa as Chelsea wore Tottenham down over the course of 90 minutes.
The first half started off very open with both teams taking advantage of the width of Wembley's field and using the space to their advantage. Both teams seemed to want to push forward early, and the opening period was an even, back and forth affair.
The game settled in after about 15 minutes. Spurs attempted to dictate play through their preferred counter-pressing tactical system and it was effective against the Ramires-Fabregas midfield. The earliest chances for Spurs came from the feet of Christian Eriksen: his free kick early in the half had Petr Cech beat but caromed off the crossbar, and he some other half-chances over the course of the half. Chelsea did a good job of containing Harry Kane, and his only real chance came early in the half on a shot that went just wide left.
Chelsea seemed content to try and hit Spurs on the counter late in the half, and they had a few half-chances on the break as Diego Costa attempted to get past Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier. The Dier-Costa battle in particular was a scrappy; got away with putting a hand to Dier's face that went uncalled, and Dier later picked up soft yellow after Costa went down easy just outside the Spurs box.
Spurs looked like the better side throughout the majority of the first half, but it didn't matter. In the 43rd minute, Kyle Walker went down hard with a knock and was taken off for treatment. While Spurs were down a man a Chelsea free kick took a wicked deflection and landed at the feet of John Terry in the box. Terry's shot rebounded off of a Spurs player and went in past Lloris to put Chelsea up 1-0, very much against the run of play. The first half ended 1-0.
Neither manager made any halftime changes.
In the second half, Fabregas had an early overhead kick for Chelsea that was parried away by Lloris, and a few minutes later Diego Costa deepened Spurs' troubles, scoring from an acute angle in the 56th minute and doubling Chelsea's lead. That goal took the wind right out of Tottenham's sails, and as the rain began to pour down on the Wembley pitch Tottenham fell apart. Spurs had a few late scrums in the box late in the match as they desperately tried to pull back a goal, but in the end they amounted to nothing. The match ended 2-0.
Beating Chelsea was always going to be a big ask, but you can't say that Spurs didn't comport themselves well until the second goal. They looked lively and put in a workman-like performance, but Chelsea did a fine job of taking Kane out of the picture, and no other Spurs player was able to pick up the offensive load. As the match ticked down, Spurs looked out of ideas and exhausted. A 2-0 scoreline feels both a little unfair and somehow exactly what we all expected, deep down.
- This match has followed the typical Spurs narrative almost to a T – Spurs play well but concede a derpy early goal. The only difference is that this time Chelsea didn't let up the pressure on Kane and Eriksen, and nobody else could manage to put the ball in the net.
- I can't fault anyone's performance in this match, really. Nobody played especially well, nobody played especially poorly. The difference in this match is that, quite simply, Chelsea have better players.
- Chelsea did a fantastic job on Harry Kane -- he was essentially a non-factor after the first five minutes of the match.
- I'm complaining here, but I do really wonder what might have happened if Spurs' fixture schedule hadn't been so murderous. Would we have still lost? Probably. I just wonder.
- Despite an awful week, there are still a lot of positives to take away from this stretch. Tottenham are a young team that can still improve, and if nothing else the weak areas in the squad have been identified. Spurs can build on this game.
- I feel like Mourinho out-managed Pochettino, but Mourinho regularly out-manages his opponents. There's no shame there. And it's not like Pochettino had a bad game. He was just up against the best.
- Still can't smile without you, Tottenham. COYS.