Opinion: An analysis of that Chelsea defeat and what is going wrong for Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

That was no mid-table team facing Chelsea last night. That would be an insult to the likes of Arsenal, Southampton and Crystal Palace.

We’re not better than Brighton and they sit in 15th position. The harsh truth of this game is that Chelsea weren’t all that good, because they didn’t have to be.

Sam Allardyce must be licking his lips knowing that his Baggies have a decent chance at three points on Sunday. Carlo Ancelotti can reserve a spot in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup. A

nd Wolfsberger can start wondering who they might be drawn against in the Round of 16 in the Europa League.

This season is done. Now the key questions will revolve around which, if any, of the quartet of Lloris, Kane, Son and Mourinho will still be in North London come summer.

Right now I wouldn’t count on any of them, and you can make a good case if Daniel Levy still cares that it might just be in his interest to blow it all up and start the complete rebuild which is necessary.

I’ll begin with whatever the Portuguese word for “stupidity” is. Maybe Eric and Jose can bond over that one in some socially distant venue.

He made a nice initial challenge, if risky, on Werner to begin with. But that wasn’t sufficient. He just had to kick at the German while lying on his back—like a petulant child upset that someone just stole his toy—and the penalty was the inevitable result.

And if you want to say “well he played hard the rest of the way”—which he did—remember that ludicrous back pass that forced Hugo to head the ball to a Chelsea attacker which easily could or should have been converted into a second goal?

He can no longer play in a starting XI. Try Rodon, Tanganga or Sanchez first.  Kudos to Thomas Tuchel, by the way, who understood that the pairing of Davies and Dier was our vulnerability and used Hudson-Odoi and Werner to pressure us down that flank the entire first half.

As for the rest, Lloris saved a goal late, the entire defence blocked numerous Chelsea shots, and Aurier and Alderweireld played OK. But let’s face it—a more clinical Top Four side would easily have doubled or tripled the goal output, such was the gap in quality on display.

To the midfield. Hojbjerg and Sissoko—whatever their virtues—are hopeless in any possible method of producing a decent attack. Only in the final fifteen minutes—after the introduction of Lucas and particularly Lamela—did their contributions seem as if they could help produce a decent scoring chance, if not a goal.

But even then both are far too often guilty of stopping the action, failing to attempt a forward ball, and settling for a sideways or backwards pass and the entire sad spectacle starts all over again.

Tanguy wasn’t the guy last night —I felt as if a couple of times he was in love with his special move, and settled for trying to beat two or three players around him rather than a quick and bold forward move or pass that could have created something.

But let’s face it—he’s alone with this team and the three players ahead of him were offering next to nothing. Bergwijn was pretty anonymous—when Lucas and Lamela in a quarter-hour do more than you did in five times that amount of playing time it is not a compliment. But even his plays pales to the horrendous display of the other two forwards. 

Poor Carlos Vinicius is being asked to do things he simply doesn’t have the ability or presence to pull off.

He doesn’t hold the ball well, his first pass is often inaccurate and turns over possession, he was slow to recognize that Son was open to his left on our best first-half break, he missed the one free header he got late in the game.

The fall-off from Kane is immense—that difference alone turns into an average team at best. But Son is the bigger offender—he is simply disappearing before our very eyes without his strike partner and with defences aware of his counterattacking threat.

He has no trick in the bag other than run straight ahead, try to collect a long ball, or cut in from the left hoping to launch a 20+ yard shot. No ability to see the field, to pass to open teammates, to stress the defence in other ways.

His kick way over the bar at the last said it all. He is simply not a particularly good player these days.

As for the manager, what culpability does he have when we are so passive in the first half? On both sides of the ball. Surely it must be substantial. 

Chelsea had space to do whatever they wished until the break—Spurs had no attack other than Route One or counter, even after the penalty had put us behind. 

The energy was better in the second half, but the attack was pitiful. We have mastered sideways and back, wait the crucial two or three seconds with space ahead of you so the defence can regain their shape, play a long ball without anyone in position to claim the second ball, pass the ball weakly to someone else so that you aren’t the one who took a chance and lost possession.

Only in the final fifteen minutes did this team remotely resemble the type of Tottenham team we have seen for most of the past six years. If it is the players who don’t have the skill level to compete—and to some extent that is the reality—well we must find new ones.

But when even the ones with ability are stifled by their system—or lack thereof—intimidated or scared to take a chance, not drilled well enough in creating chances and exploiting the opposition—well, whose fault is that?

Turn out the lights, friends. This party’s over. It might be years until another gets going again.  

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  1. 1 word for it diabolical.and the article is spot on who is levy going to get in.the only thing spurs can hope for is we get new owners as levy is a failure like jose is at present weve to many poor players championship level when we go down they may do some good at present we are a bottom four team weve no fight or ideas and big Sam will do a number on us on sunday

  2. For and as a Spurs Fan of over 50 years it was appalling to watch last night. Virtually the same team was playing in the Champions League not so long ago. Having played football for many years I don’t like to look for scapegoats. You win and lose as a team, and the team is only as good as it is set up. Mourinho is no Spurs Coach and should be sacked before further damage is done. No Plan B in the absence of Kane. There was a spell when Spurs played better without Kane!
    The defence is a collective scared to make mistakes, the midfield is often left to do too much and is too often stifled by the opposition.
    The forwards are out-numbered and largely left on their own faced with 2 and 3 defenders to beat. The team is disjointed and lacks confidence. I’m not a coach and don’t want to know better. For someone who earns a reported 15 Million a year this is just not good enough. Levy must be having sleepless nights as the season begins to unravel. We’re going nowhere fast.
    Pochettino got it right but received little or no support in the latter stages. This has to be the basis for a new manager.


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