There were no real surprises in the lineup for Tottenham as Jose Mourinho went with his 4-2-3-1 that featured a Sissoko-Dier pivot. Chelsea decided to play a back three for the first time all season and dusted off Marcos Alonso to play left wingback. It was a curious move by Frank Lampard tactically but showed Chelsea wanted to press hard against Spurs back six.
Chelsea struck first in the 13th minute after Serge Aurier conceded a corner on a long ball that he could have done better with. A short corner later, Willian made one move to his right, leaving Aurier standing around to watch, and ripped a shot for the far post past everyone. Paulo Gazzaniga had absolutely no chance to stop it as it found the side netting, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
It was one-way traffic for the first twenty minutes of the match as Chelsea pressed Spurs into oblivion. Spurs spent most of that time in their own half and, in a lot of cases, in their own third. Chelsea’s attack tended to favor the left side with Alonso and Willian, though Davinson Sanchez was up to the task in keeping things in check as he made a couple of key tackles on Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.
Spurs finally got going on the attack after the 25th minute as Lucas got the ball deep in the final third and fed Moussa Sissoko. The midfielder made a charge toward the touchline and played a cutback pass to Kane. The one-time effort wasn’t bad but it went over the crossbar. Not long after, Son Heung-Min had a great opportunity on a lovely low cross, but his shot was sent into the stands.
Tempers flared later in the first half as Dele and Kovacic came together. Both earned yellow cards for their involvement, though Dele was clearly the instigator by jumping on Kovacic’s back.
Spurs had a major setback before the end of the half as Gazzaniga completely whiffed on a clearance and ended up cross body blocking Alonso in the process. Initially, the foul was given in Spurs favor, but VAR overturned the decision and gave a penalty to Chelsea. Willian stepped up and buried the penalty to make it 2-0. Mourinho stormed down the tunnel to the dressing room right before the half came to an end. Big changes needed to happen if Spurs were going to claw their way back into the match.
Mourinho opted to bring on Christian Eriksen for Eric Dier to start the second half. He slotted into the pivot next to Sissoko in an effort to kickstart the attack. Mourinho seemed to shift the formation into a traditional back three as Lucas was basically at left wingback while Son pushed up to a second striker.
Spurs got an attack going but couldn’t unlock the Chelsea defense. The 55th minute almost saw the dagger in this match as Willian attempted a long distance shot that Gazzaniga couldn’t trap, allowing Tammy Abraham to bury the rebound into the net. However, the flag was up for a clear offside to keep the deficit at two.
Things went from bad to worse for Spurs as Son was fouled by Rudiger, causing Son to end up on his back. The Korean International ended up kicking out at Rudiger which Anthony Taylor initially let go. VAR opted for a red card check for violent conduct, which eventually overturned the decision. Son was sent off to send Spurs down to ten men. That led to an ugly scene with debris being thrown at Chelsea players and included apparent racism directed at Rudiger. It’s all but certain we’ll hear more about that situation at a later time.
Spurs brought on Tanguy Ndombele in the 74th minute, marking his first appearance back from injury. It could have been a better situation, but seeing him healthy again is a welcome sight.
The 87th minute brought a chance for Spurs as Dele was fouled at the corner of the penalty area, though he was offside on the initial ball it seemed. The foul was still given but deemed outside of the box, giving Spurs a free kick that was headed out to touch. Eriksen’s ensuing corner didn’t clear the first man to erase any chance Spurs had of a late comeback.
Thoughts on the Match:
- An utter disaster of a performance. Spurs could have gone to fourth with a win today. Instead, their play could be summed up with the sound of a wet fart.
- The only players I thought had good performances from the starters today were Sanchez and Alderweireld, but Davinson was a cut above. He played so well.
- Ndombele being healthy is a welcome sight. He did what he could when he came on.
- On the flip side, Aurier’s performance was especially awful. Gazzaniga wasn’t much better with his impromptu WWE tryout on Alonso.
- It’s unclear if the three announcements for racism were for three separate incidents. Reading on Twitter, it appears the incident was monkey chants directed at Rudiger. Call the supporters out and ban them. There’s no place for it.
- Watch the tape. Burn the tape. Move on to Brighton.