Say what you want about the way the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea went on Monday, but it was certainly eventful. Spurs gave up two second half goals in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which isn't a bad result in most circumstances, but not when you need a win in order to keep from gifting the Premier League title to another club.
Worse than that were several skirmishes between Spurs and Blues players, and a number of hard fouls committed by both sides. Spurs picked up 9 yellow cards -- a Premier League record for a single match -- and Chelsea was hit with three. But in post-match comments, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to criticize his squad in what was an extremely emotionally charged match.
"It was a derby, we were fighting to win the title and Chelsea were fighting to try and win. We were all involved. When you play for the title and play a big team like Chelsea, they want to win. It was normal emotion, fighting on the pitch is not a good example, for both teams.
"In football we want to win and sometimes situations like tonight happen. I think there is nothing to say, nothing to blame, how they [Chelsea] take the game shows big respect for us. That makes us feel proud.
"Our players are disappointed and sad, we need to feel that for the future. We are the youngest squad in the Premier League and to be in this position is fantastic. Now we need to focus to keep our place and finish second."
Then asked if Spurs had gone overboard in certain situations, Pochettino said "Maybe yes but we need to see the video. On the touchline is hard to observe the situations."
I'm of the opinion that Spurs most emphatically DID go overboard and crossed several lines. No question that what happened was enabled by the inept officiating of Mark Clattenburg, who clearly set the tone for this emotionally charged match very early on, and a whole lot of winding-up by Chelsea players as well, but there's no excusing what Spurs did. Mousa Dembele DID poke Diego Costa in the eye. Mauricio Pochettino DID step onto the pitch to involve himself in a player scrum. Erik Lamela DID step on Cesc Fabregas' hand. And Eric Dier DID take Fabregas out and SHOULD have seen a straight red or at mnimum his second yellow.
Derbies are fun when they have an edge to them, but there's a difference between a match with an edge and a match where your team plays like goons. As much as I love the spirit in this club, they played like goons in this match, especially in the second half. I can't countenance that. (Even against Chelsea.)
We're going to have to wait to see how this all shakes out. The FA will almost certainly have a lot to say about what happened. And unfortunately, it's very likely that at least one of Spurs' key players will miss the rest of the season, which could have a huge impact on the last two matches and Spurs' chances of securing a finish ahead of Arsenal when all is said and done.