It was somehow fitting that in a game against a team where the Special One made his mark in English football, on the eve of a game against the club that just binned him, that Spurs would beat Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup in a victory that could rightly be called “Mourinho-esque”. I thought Chelsea were the slightly better side in the first half; they were downright dominant throughout the second, and somehow some resolute defending, timely goalkeeping and good old-fashioned luck kept Chelsea from scoring a preserved a 1-0 victory which came, correctly as it were, at the hands of VAR and a subsequent Kane penalty.
The entire second half was a wonderful spectacle in its agonising way—Chelsea with possession, Hazard, Kante, Alonso, Barkley and ultimately Pedro looking to find the opening to a really good chance and the equalizing goal. Spurs resolute in defence—Alderweireld and Sanchez standing strong, Rose dynamic in his ability to burst forward and throttle the visitors’ attacks, Sissoko and others doing just enough to prevent an easy move on Gazzaniga for the goal. It wasn’t pretty—our clearances were largely ineffective, and the few times we did break for a possible clinching goal someone (bad pass or two from Sissoko, Kane going 1 v 4, Son simply without his usual burst) would manage to kill the chance.
And yet we survived. VAR was dead-on accurate as our pretty obvious Route One tactic finally bore fruit as Azpilicueta played Kane onside by about the same distance Liverpool missed a goal by In their tussle with City. Kepa could have seen red, but yellow was fine and Kane was never going to miss. This is the type of game we have rarely won in past seasons under Poch—but which has become increasingly common in this one. In the past, we would have conceded an equalizer and been lucky to escape with a draw. Spursiness again.
This season is different. This team is different. The manager is getting better and better. We all would have wished for a younger Dembele and a healthier Dier or Wanyama—for all of Winks’ skills he got bossed off the ball a couple of times and was having as much trouble with Kante as the rest of the Spurs XI. But we didn’t have them and yet we prevailed. Now on to the “No-Win Derby” against United on a 5 game Ole Gunnar run. Win and Poch must be their new manager. Lose and Spurs slink back again into the pack and Poch must move on to be their new manager. Sometime in the next 20 years, I guess.
All we can do is live and die with the lads on the pitch. Last night was hardly pitch perfect—Chelsea might now rate a slight favourites to win by enough at Stamford Bridge—but think of it this way. If we score one, they must score three. I like THIS TEAM’s chances because they’re different.
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