Zero points are zero points. It was Spurs’ best performance since the City game. They deserved at least a draw. With a healthy Alderweireld and an eligible Rose, not only do they almost certainly not lose, they could easily have won. The effort was there until the very end—the quality of the team evident to all.
But little things win titles, and little things cost slots in the Champions League. The finishing wasn’t there after Eriksen’s sublime effort in the 11th minute—despite plenty of opportunities. The entire team started to coast with a couple of minutes left in the first half. Dier appeared most culpable for not closing down Pedro but really it was a teamwide effort and an almost inevitable outcome given Chelsea’s quality. The winner placed Kevin Wimmer into a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation—if anything the bigger fault lay with Dier and Walker for allowing Costa and Co to get free to find Moses.
In the second half- in the final 15 minutes or so—Spurs at least lifted themselves off the mat and pressed hard. Kane, Wanyama, and Dembele were particularly active—Nkoudou got free a couple of times even if he disappointed with his service in the end. I can’t really make this a harsh column. This was probably one of the two or three toughest games to win or even draw on the schedule—the fact that it was our first defeat is no surprise. Now Poch must use health and the more relaxed Europa schedule (assuming we do qualify with a win or draw against CSKA) to start to narrow the gap between Spurs and the top four. Of course it won’t be easy, but this game puts to rest any notion that we are not good enough. We are. Whether that quality is reflected in the final table is up to the manager and the players.
As to the raging debate about the Monaco selection, of course none of it worked. But if Vertonghen and Walker play vs Monaco a) there’s no guarantee of a better result, and a pretty strong chance it would only have been a draw that probably would still leave Spurs out of luck, and b) there’s every reason to believe the chances of a result today would have dropped. So let’s stop finger-pointing and get on with it. The margin of error has dropped a lot—but a strong run between now and New Year’s will make us forget the past six weeks pretty quickly.
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