The flat part I can’t explain. Somehow Chelsea were ready for this, and we weren’t. Throughout the first half they were quicker and tougher to the ball—everywhere on the pitch.
Pupil convinced them that beating Master mattered—would that our boys could have felt the same way. The frustrating part comes back to Christian Eriksen, I’m afraid. What has become painfully obvious these past two weekends is that Spurs are dead in the central midfield—utterly unable to impose their will or maintain possession.
Sissoko may rush forward on occasion but it is an out-of-control train with rare stops along the way. Dier is hopeless for anything remotely close to advancing the ball and finding an attacking player in position to do something positive.
It cries out for a real playmaker. Dele attempted that role this evening from a deeper position, and he was miserable, frankly, surrendering the ball numerous times. We have such a player only he can’t play because he doesn’t want to be here. I don’t blame Jose and I didn’t blame Poch for taking that stance—but his absence makes our squad incomplete—a huge hole in the middle. His halftime entrance into the game confirms that view. All we can do without him is go longball and hope Dele or Son or Kane can pick out a pass and beat a defender. It’s not a formula for consistent success. And frankly I’m not sure even when we do play him that the Dane will ever again show the form of 2016-18. So be gone with him next month.
The Chelsea goals themselves were products of some glaring errors—Aurier misjudging a clearance and surrendering a corner all too easily, and then both Lucas and he failing to close Willian down. I don’t know what Gazzaniga was doing in his jaunt into Alonso—couldn’t he have simply caught the ball? But make no mistake they were the better side—we were left to two chances late in the half that both Kane and Son fluffed badly.
Son’s red card was simply the product of a team that was unprepared for this game—he lashed out in frustration and off he went. A poor VAR decision given Rudiger’s play-acting but one that was the product of a crap game all the way around. Unfortunately some stupid fans made the whole night a complete horror show by injecting hate and racism into the mix.
So now what? Six points behind Chelsea for Top Four position but psychologically much further back than that. Heading into a spat of festive fixtures without our second best player. Serious questions concerning right back and midfield with a transfer window that may or may not provide any help. Surviving questions about the team’s attitude—no matter who the manager is—when it can show up so flat for such a big game. Chelsea games have tended to be consequential in recent years—the 5-3 pasting over Jose at the Lane announcing Kane and a new Spurs power. The Battle of the Bridge ending our title chase but also serving notice that we would not back down. I’m not sure what this one means, but surely it can’t be particularly good for the future, can it?
Have something to tell us about this article?