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Tottenham 1-4 Chelsea: Nine-man Spurs fall to Pochettino’s Blues in disastrous match

A disastrous loss for Spurs, in more ways than one.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Vibes FC just took a shot to the crotch. I’m not sure it’s possible for Tottenham Hotspur to have a more disastrous match than the one they just played at home against Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea. Spurs came out flying, going ahead in the fifth minute through Dejan Kulusevski and nearly went up 2-0 but a Son Heung-Min goal was called back for offside.

But then the wheels fell off the wagon. Cuti Romero was issued a straight red card, Micky van de Ven left with what looked like a serious hamstring injury, Destiny Udogie picked up two yellow cards, and suddenly Spurs were down to nine players midway through the second half. Totetnham, through Guglielmo Vicario, withstood a torrent of Chelsea chances, but Raheem Sterling and Nico Jackson combined put the Blues ahead in the 75th minute.

Eric Dier fired what he thought was an equalizing goal in the 79th minute thanks to a flick-on by Rodrigo Bentancur, but VAR again was called in to adjudicate and the goal was waved off. Spurs went close again late through Son who forced Sanchez to make a key save, but Jackson immediately put the match to bed with a counterattack goal in the 93rd and added another one in the 97th. The final score was 1-4, with Spurs dropping their first league match and falling out of the top spot in the Premier League table.

That was misery. Here are my match notes.

Match Notes

  • God, I hate playing Chelsea.
  • I mean, you can’t ask for a better start than Dejan Kulusevski knocking in a deflected shot in the net inside 5 minutes, can you? Fantastic pass from Madison to start the move, and Deki had just TONS of space in which to operate. Fortunate? Maybe. But it counts!
  • That waved-off goal by Sonny... man. I dunno. The angle that they used to determine his placement looked worse than the other one which looked like he was on. Once again another goal for Sonny waved off for being exactly 1mm in an offside position. It’s a thing now.
  • I was angry about the yellow on Udogie but on replay, that was definitely an orange card, and a yellow was warranted. Might have even been lucky.
  • Sterling’s disallowed goal was clearly the right decision — a clear handball — made murkier by Oliver failing to call two equally clear fouls in the buildup ahead of the goal. But it was karmic intervention for Sonny having a toenail offside.
  • That stretch a half hour in where Caicedo scores and is waved off as offside by VAR, and then ANOTHER VAR check for a Cuti challenge that ended up being a red card and a penalty... this can’t be how everything is supposed to be run. Yes, it was a bad challenge. Yes, it’s a penalty, I guess? But these kinds of lengthy reviews do NOTHING in service of the match. I’m also not sure what else Cuti could’ve done there, he was going for the ball.
  • So in that first half we went ahead, had a second called back, lost Cuti to a three match red card, lost Van de Ven with a ruptured hamstring for what looks like a long term injury, saw Maddison subbed off for a non-contact Achilles injury, and Pedro Porro limping after picking up an ankle knock. I thought Spurs might lose this match. I didn’t expect their season to go completely off the rails.
  • Kind of incredible that Reece James didn’t even pick up a yellow card for elbowing Udogie in the face... though I suppose that can be explained by Oliver missing the call and VAR not being able to issue yellows. Oliver never had control of this match.
  • Second half was pretty much a foregone conclusion, considering Spurs were without their starting two CBs their midfield playmaker, and down a man.
  • I’d like to imagine what Ange’s halftime team talk was, and the best I can come up with is “I don’t care if you lose by four, I want you to go out there and try to win this! ...Mates.”
  • IDK what Destiny was thinking with that second challenge. He knew the second he went in that it was a second yellow. Just colossally stupid.
  • Ange doesn’t bunker which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but even I was a little surprised to see Spurs continue to play a super high line down two men.
  • Look, if there’s one positive we can take from this match it’s this — Guglielmo Vicario is a friggin’ STAR. He was absolutely incredible on Chelsea’s breakaways, rushing out to make key stops and keeping Spurs from getting run out of the stadium. He might be the best keeper in the league right now.
  • Gotta say I shrieked when Eric Dier’s ball went into the net, but it was clearly offside and no idea why VAR took so long to confirm it.
  • Tottenham lost this match, but they played with so much heart in that second half. The crowd saw it too and serenaded them right to the final whistle and beyond. They really went for it, and I’m actually kind of proud of that. If Udogie doesn’t get sent off I think Spurs somehow snatch a draw.
  • This match is going to have repercussions that will far outweigh this single result. Spurs will play at least the next match without three of today’s starting back line, and potentially without James Maddison. We talked about how we were walking a thin line between a title contending team and one that could struggle with a couple of injuries. Guess we’re going to find out just how much Big Ange can squeeze out of this depth.