like you did after the United win.
The previous game beating Man United 3-0 was, at the time, Spurs’ best result of the season, beating the previously unbeaten Chelsea 3-1 was the best performance by Spurs all season.
In hindsight, with the way United have gone so far that early season victory wasn’t as much a statement as it once would have been, maybe highlighted by some of the disappointing performances and results that followed it.
Spurs have to follow this victory up with a good run. It was a far better victory, though I have felt Chelsea were in a false position. A team with that defence was going to be turned over at some point. Sarri had been getting away with it for a few months. A move from a back three to a back four isn’t the way to go with three quarters of that defence. Alonso is OK as a wing-back not a fullback, not because he wants to be a winger and not bother much with defending. Luiz gets away with someone covering for him in a three and Rudiger is shot, for club and country.
And while the away team had nearly two thirds of the ball, the 3-1 scoreline flattered them. Hell if only Son had converted his chances and no one else the score would have flattered them.
It was a tactical master-stroke by Pochettino. Stick Dele on the player that makes them tick and just stop ’em. For all the talk during the week about the lack of not just signings but big money signings, here was a £5m signing completely null and voiding a £50m signing. In the process stopping a then £32m signing, in Hazard and a £60m signing in Morata. It doesn’t take much to stop Morata from scoring, another reason Sarri was getting a way with it alongside the strange decision of playing Kante as an attacking midfielder. Cut off the service from £50m Jorginho, as Dele did, and who is there to provide for Hazard etc… Kante? While the likes of Barkley sit on the bench.
Spurs were up for this one. Up from the very start. Before Chelsea knew it the home side were knocking on their door. A minute on the clock and Spurs had two corners. Eight minutes in and they had the lead. Luiz with a foul on Harry, though apparently stamping on his foot is OK according to some commentators. Eriksen’s free-kick from the right and Dele heads it through the keeper’s hands.
They’d already had chances before this to open the scoring, in the next 8 minutes Son has two decent chances to extend the lead. A one two with Eriksen outside the box that saw the Dane looping a lovely chip right onto the Korean’s foot only to see him blaze it over the bar, was glorious in its build-up. Then Sissoko hustle Alonso off the ball, played it simple to Dele and he fed in Son, skinned Rudiger, into the box it was a tight angle and saved. By the end of the half he could quite easily have had four to his… or should have had four.
They did go in at the break with a bigger lead with a cracker from Harry. Picking the ball up well outside the box, everyone knew he planned to have a shot and when he did Luiz arched his back out of the way, in doing so he unsighted the keeper, who had no real chance anyway.
Funny hearing the criticism of Luiz getting out of the way of blocking the shot, when the very same people never mention the fact Rio Ferdinand made a career out of doing so with United and England.
Chelsea had a shout for a penalty. Foyth, who they took great glee in telling us had given away a couple of pens against Wolves, caught him in the box. Was a foul, they got away with it, which certainly makes a change. Though you feel if it had been Dele fouled like that and the collapse later by hazard in the area that certainly wasn’t a penalty, the media would have been screaming about diving.
Chelsea’s first half could be summed up by the fact they were being dominated by Sissoko. He had the best pass percentage on the pitch, while winning all his tackles and take-ons. For all the talk about how good he’d been lately, this was by far his best performance in a Spurs shirt. Doing simple things and giving the ball to those who are better doing doing complicated things. Play like that and he won’t get the dogs abuse. Play like he has before and it’ll return. Deservedly so.
And it was so good to have those guys that can do the sexy things back. Dele, Son and Eriksen. All back, all looking fit and all looking up for it.
But would they regret all those missed chances? This is Spurs after all, they always regret those missed chances. Ten minutes into the second half and all those missed chances were forgotten as you watched the goal of the season. A nice tackle by Aurier, onto Dele and his ball curling down the sideline found Son, turning on the halfway line. A bit of a stop start then he skinned the £50m Jorginho, he was into the box, past a flimsy flounce of an attempt at a tackle by Luiz and Sonny curls it into the far post. Pick the bones outta that.
So well deserved from Son, who had his best game of the season with that being his first goal of the season – his 50th for the club. He still has that habit of missing the easy ones and scoring the hard ones.
Yes they got one back minutes from the end but Spurs weren’t hanging on here. They bossed this, even with less of the ball. Sonny could have had five, Toby, Dele, Harry – don’t know how he missed that chance, well, yes he leaned back, but why Harry, why? – Eriksen could have added more, it could quite easily have been double figures and that wouldn’t have flattered Pochettino’s men.
A starting XI that was missing Vertonghen and Sanchez in central defence, Trippier and Rose – who many regard as the best fullbacks – Dembele, Lamela and the hero of the early part of the season Moura. Maybe Poch needs to keep going with those front four at the mo, a bit of continuity. What they have to do is keep playing like this, with this intensity from start to finish.
They’re five points off apparently the greatest team anyone has ever seen and yet this was the first real top quality game they’d played in the league so far…