As the match versus Chelsea descended into chaos, Spurs showed fight that hasn’t been seen for some time.
Sitting at the top of the league table as the only remaining unbeaten Premier League team, Spurs fans had something to enjoy that was perhaps unexpected when the season began.
What made it even sweeter from a supporters’ perspective is that while Tottenham was surprising many, city rival Chelsea was – and honestly still is – stuck in a rut, spending and spending while giving the manager role to a former Spurs saviour yet still struggling to get results.
Even as Tottenham missed out on European qualification last campaign, they were able to secure four points in two matches against the Blues, highlighted by a 2-0 win in February.
It seemed this season that the rivalry would begin to shift even more in favour of the North London club, as Chelsea entered the match in 11th position.
The match began the way fans have already become accustomed to, with Spurs playing an entertaining brand of football as Chelsea struggled to deal with Postecoglou’s side.
It took a mere six minutes for Tottenham to go in front, thanks to a goal from Dejan Kulusevski. It seemed Spurs were on their way to a big derby victory and another three points to move back to the top of the standings.
But around a half hour into the match, chaos ensued.
A poor challenge from Cristian Romero – not a first for him – not only conceded a penalty but sent the Argentine defender back to the locker room and Tottenham down to 10 men at the 33-minute mark.
Even as Chelsea converted the penalty to even the scoreline a few moments later, Spurs did not change their tactics despite being down a player. They continued to push forward and create chances, which included a Son Heung-min goal being disallowed for offsides. The match remained level heading into halftime, yet it was still clear which side had the better performance in the period.
Somehow things went from bad to worse for Tottenham in the second half, when a late challenge from Destiny Udogie saw him sent off following a second yellow card offence only 10 minutes following the break.
Being down to nine players on the pitch with around 35 minutes plus stoppage time remaining, Spurs had every reason to fold. At this point, both Micky van de Ven and James Maddison had also been forced off due to injury.
Postecoglou could have easily changed his tactics to sit back and defend in an attempt to pick up at least a point in a match that had gone completely sideways.
A positive change
Seeing the sides of the past handfuls of seasons, I habitually expected Spurs to implode, with players showing no fight when it seemed the result was set in stone. I had been trained to see the team, with its collective heads down and an apparent lack of drive or passion, let the events of the match get to them as they accepted defeat.
But it is clear that Postecoglou, even early on in his tenure, is changing the culture at the club.
Even with the odds stacked against them, Tottenham fought to the bitter end. Players created chances even down to nine men. They made tackles and crucial saves. Each player on the pitch fought for the manager, the club, the supporters, and each other.
Spurs eventually lost the match 4-1, but supporters saw the effect of Big Ange’s attitude and never-give-up mentality on full display.
Yes, losing to Chelsea at home is disappointing, and doing so while losing players to injury made it that much more painful.
And while it won’t be the last time Spurs lose a league match this season, we learned a lot about the heart and fight of this group of players and the manager even in defeat.
As a Spurs fan, all you can ask is that the team on the pitch and touchline give it their all every match, and they did just that.
No matter where they finish in the table, Tottenham will be an enjoyable watch that supporters can get behind together.
The “To Dare is to Do” mantra is back at Spurs, and it’s here to stay.
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