After Wednesday’s heroics against Leicester City, there were hopes that Tottenham Hotspur had turned a corner and could play Chelsea competitively at Stamford Bridge.
Due to a slew of injuries, Tottenham had to put out a makeshift lineup against the Blues, had a first half Harry Kane goal called back for a soft foul, and ultimately fell 2-0 thanks to a worldy from Hakim Ziyech and a set piece header from Thiago Silva. It was Tottenham manager Antonio Conte’s first league loss while in charge.
Tottenham’s starting lineup was bizarre, possibly out of necessity. Due to a combination of injuries and absences, Conte was forced to play in a 4-4-2 formation, with Eric Dier returning to the starting XI and alongside Davinson Sanchez. Ben Davies and Japhet Tanganga were the fullbacks, and two MORE fullbacks made up the wide midfielders, with Ryan Sessegnon and Matt Doherty playing higher up the pitch. Harry Kane and Steven Bergwijn were in the front two, ahead of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks.
- I am now officially worried about Gio Lo Celso’s Tottenham future.
- Weirdly, while the lineup screamed 4-4-2, for large portions of the match it looked like Spurs morphed into a 3-5-2 with Doherty playing more centrally. Doherty drifted outside in possession but moved into the middle in defense. Another interesting tactical wrinkle from Conte. Shame it didn’t work because Matt Doherty was awful.
- The waved-off Kane goal was so annoying. On the one hand, Thiago went down super easily and it was clearly a flop. On the other hand, Kane had a hand on his back and that’s a call that will be given in that circumstance. Kane screwed up, but the goal still should’ve counted, especially considering Thiago shoved Hojbjerg harder in the back during his goal than Kane did.
- Look, let’s just call a spade a spade — Tottenham just got smushed today. It sucks, and they should’ve taken the early lead, but Chelsea are just a better team and it’s been clear over all three times they’ve played this month.
- That said, this match was kind of a “free hit” — Feels like half the team is injured so I didn’t expect a win and Spurs are still in very good position to finish top four even with the loss.
- Kind of enjoyed watching the Kane-Bergwijn strike partnership. It was close to a classic big-little partnership except Stevie is more “thicc” than, say, Defoe.
- I can’t even be mad at that Ziyech goal. It was that good. And now I’m mad because I can’t be mad at that goal and I want to be mad at it. Which makes me mad.
- Tanganga had another really uneven match. That cheap yellow in the first half and his generally over-exuberant play meant I expected him to get subbed off at halftime, and functionally there isn’t much difference between being subbed off at 55’ and subbed off at HT.
- Some Spurs away fans were apparently throwing things at Rudiger in the second half. That’s bad, and they should be found and banned from attending football matches ever again.
- It was good to see Dier again. I’ve missed that big lug. And Kane was pretty good today, I thought. Hugo too.
- Screw it. Go out and do something fun with your afternoon, you’ll feel better.