Chelsea 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
After the last week, defeat yesterday seemed inevitable before kick-off. Half an hour in, the first win at Stamford Bridge in many people’s lifetime, seemed inevitable. It wasn’t a case of if we won but by how many.
Having seen an earlier Harry Kane effort (rightly) chalked off for offside, Christian Eriksen lashed home from twenty yards. Chelsea, the Premier League’s bright young things having scored loads and conceded none, were on the back foot as we assumed control of the game.
After Tuesday’s lack of passion, the opening half was much better but – you knew there was a but coming – conceding an equaliser shortly before half-time deflated the players. It’s the only explanation for the first and second half displays. One was getting back toward how we know they can play; the other was just a continuation of recent weeks.
Chelsea were better in the second half, no doubt about it. They tweaked their formation to counter Walker, who had pushed Moses into a purely defensive role but the energy levels from the midfield dropped considerably. Whereas in the first half, Chelsea had to play sideways and backwards, now they were passing through the midfield to the flanks and Wimmer was given a harsh lesson in being a left back.
The winner when it came was such a typical goal for us to concede. Pulled toward the left, the defence left a gaping hole on the right which Moses was only too happy to fill. His finish via goalkeeper and defender was calm and hardly surprising; it just seemed depressingly inevitable.
There’s no doubt that collectively we fell away in the second half. The players with big reputations carved in recent years were the ones who failed to perform. Dele Alli was awful; uninspired and uninspiring whilst on the left Son pushed Moses back in the first half. In the second, Chelsea changed and he didn’t respond, eventually hooked.
At the back, Dier and Wimmer were square pegs in round holes but when you look at the bench, there were even fewer options. The American military has a term for our summer and we are certainly paying the price for poor investments in the transfer market.
The bright spots in the team was Wanyama’s performance. The one player willing to stand up to Chelsea and be counted. Dembele, fine in the first half, was the Invisible Man in the second.
But the manager has to carry some of the can for this. Pochettino is undoubtedly a talented coach but recent weeks have seen us making the same mistakes, time and again. He had input into the summer’s business and still has gaping holes in the squad, particularly in defence.
The jury is still out on Janssen and N’Koudou, players who need to adapt to the English game and who won’t find it easy to do so in 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there. They have to push for a starting line-up place and pressurise those in the team with their level of performance.
At the moment, that like the end of this dismal run, seems a long way off.