Perhaps unexpectedly considering the poor performance in Monaco, Spurs began the Chelsea game positively, with energy and looked bright when Christian Eriksen’s opener gave them a deserved lead. What was widely agreed to be the best half of football played by Tottenham this season ultimately culminated in a Chelsea equaliser against the run of play when Pedro curled his shot out of Lloris’ reach into the corner of the net. Spurs’ endeavour was cancelled out and a rather deflated team emerged to begin the second half – it was a lack of awareness and energy that gifted Chelsea a winner; Mousa Dembele got caught in possession and the Spurs defence was unlocked as Victor Moses was left unattended at the back post as both Vertonghen, Dier as well as Wimmer were caught ball watching. Moses’ strike ended Spurs’ unbeaten run in the Premier League and condemned them to their first league defeat of the campaign whilst both enabling the gap to increase between the top four and Tottenham and allowing Chelsea to climb back to the top of the league. The team will now need to pick themselves up for the Swansea home game this Saturday and have a week to prepare to grab three crucial points as the race for the Champions League slots begins.
Our run of form is not positive; one win in our last ten fixtures in all competitions emphasises the dip in form suffered by the team following the 2-0 home success over Manchester City. Crashing out of the Champions League at the first hurdle coupled with a first league defeat of the season has Spurs fans unquestionably disappointed and some blame has been apportioned to Pochettino on social media platforms, with some even going as far as using #PochOut. Personally, Pochettino leaving the club would be a disaster; he has steadied the ship after the short-reigns of Villas-Boas and Sherwood, has made us competitive at the top of the Premier League (look at the dominant victories over Manchester City, the win over Manchester United last season and the wins over Chelsea and Arsenal in 2014-15), is building for the future, has brought through young, English talent, has the backing of all of the players and is overseeing a period of financial difficulty with the new stadium being erected next door to White Hart Lane. Our current form crisis can be repaired in the next few games – Swansea, Hull, Burnley and Southampton are must-win fixtures – but sacking Pochettino would be the ultimate crisis, which will take years to repair.
However, the team appears to be in an identical position to last campaign and the same problems remain. A lack of cutting edge wasn’t addressed in the summer and Spurs still fail to pick up three points in fixtures they should, such as West Brom, Leicester and Bournemouth recently. Pochettino needs to address this if the team wishes to advance forward.Embed from Getty Images
Poor form has ultimately cost us our Champions League place and our unbeaten run in the Premier League; Mousa Dembele was disappointing (it was the first time Spurs have lost with Dembele starting since the opening day loss at Old Trafford last season) and Eric Dier has been severely affected by the transfer of Victor Wanyama in midfield. Dier’s confidence has taken a huge hit and this is clearly visible in his playing style – when restored back into his familiar defensive midfield position, his confidence should also be recuperated.
The first half performance was a positive to take back to North London, with Pochettino stating he was happy with the effort put in by the players, just not the result. Considering Chelsea had a week to prepare for the game and Spurs had played an extra fixture in the south of France, the team did well to pen Chelsea back and take advantage by carving out an opener. But ultimately, the extra fixture caught up with the players and the high energy press dissolved at the half time interval. Nevertheless, this indicates that, with a week to prepare, Spurs should start to pick up more results in the league starting at Swansea, a must win game.
Furthermore, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s introduction from the bench is surely a positive. His lively play caused the Chelsea back three several problems and the young Frenchman has got to be in contention to start against Swansea this Saturday.
Ultimately though, it is the ability to win games that defines a club’s season but, with a week to prepare, we should be confident that we can pick up all three points at White Hart Lane this coming Saturday. COYS!
Were there any positives from the Chelsea game? Is the only negative that we crashed out of the Champions League? Should we be optimistic heading into the Swansea game? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a tweet @Hotspur_Huddle