North London High Temperatures
Temperatures boiled over at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when local rivals Chelsea and Spurs met in an fiery encounter. Spurs had not defeated their foes in this game for 30 years and this was no different. It was as hot on the field as it was off it. With both managers getting sent off for unsavory conduct. Fortunately this only added to the spectacle of what was a superb game.
It was a game where Chelsea came out of the blocks with serious intent. Spurs could not handle their level of ferocity and they controlled the game with ease. The Chelsea midfield of Jorginho and Kante aided by Mason Mount were on a different level when compared to their counterparts. It was a case of when rather than how as the Blues tore into the visitors.
Chelsea were the driving force in this game for the first 70 minutes. Tuchel got his tactics spot on from the start and suffocated Spurs with a high press. Midfield dominance paid off but it was the running of Havertz and Sterling behind the lines that caused problems. Mason Mount was the beneficiary of the press as he found pockets of space between the Spurs defence and midfield.
Harry Kane struggled against the imposing figure of new signing Kalidou Koulibaly as he was often outnumbered when receiving the ball. Kane was a forlorn figure as team mates Son and Kulusevski were pronounced MIA. Chelsea should have had more on the scoreboard by the time Koulibaly hit the back of the net with a sublime volley. Loftus Cheek and Havertz being the wasteful ones of the group.
New Signings Shine Bright
Tuchel decided to start all his new signings for this game and they came up trumps for the majority of it. Sterling looks at ease in a darker blue shirt and you can tell he will be a success here. Koulibaly scored on his home debut and looks a real physically adept signing. Marc Cucurella had an impact on the game and looked like he will be an asset to the London club.
Conte on the other hand decided to opt away from introducing his new players into the cauldron of Stamford Bridge. It took the introduction of Richarlison to inject some urgency and power into the Spurs attack. Perisic and Bissouma followed suit each with a notable contribution to the cause. You would then need to wonder why none of these featured from the start. Or at least sooner than expected.
Passion boils over
There were a few crunching tackles on the field. There was two sets of supporters that were there to do battle by songs and chanting. But what surprised everyone was the shepherds of the flock getting hot under their collars. Both Tuchel and Conte had a needle in this game and it made for compelling viewing.
The leadup to Spurs’ equaliser was controversial as Havertz was brutally chopped down only for the officials to wave play on. 40 seconds later the ball was in the back of the Chelsea net via the boot of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. This infuriated Tuchel and rightly so. There was a coming together of managers to either side of the fourth official. It was too late for VAR to intervene on this occasion.
Chelsea regained composure and immediately created a gilt edge chance for Havertz from a Resse James cross but the German somehow managed to skew the ball wide. His blushes were saved moments later however when James found himself at the end of a Sterling pass and shot past a helpless Loris in the Spurs goal. Que a “Mourinho Esc Moment” as Tuchel found himself running down the touchline celebrating.
He who laughs First
Football is at times a strange game and celebrating 14 minutes from the fulltime whistle can be a dangerous habit. Not that Chelsea were looking like conceding. If anything it looked like they would add to their tally and send their noisey neighbours home licking heir wounds. Six minutes of extra time loomed and the sucker punch was being readied.
Again more drama in the buildup as Romero decided to try and scalp Cucurella during a corner. VAR intervened and somehow managed to turn an blind eye to the incident. On the next phase of play Perisic whipped in a superb corner and who else but Harry Kane obliged with a glancing header. Now it was Conte’s time to erupt.
Locked in a handshake
The drama was not however as the normally calm post match handshake took a turn when Tuchel took offence to Conte’s lack of eye contact. The German held the hand of his opponent and both eyes locked in a Mexican standoff. It was a superb way for both men to show the type of characters they are. Post match Conte mentioned that both men fought for their teams. No quarter was asked or given.
What does it tell us?
It was touted before this game that Spurs could finally end their hoodoo away from home in the derby. This was never going to be that day. Chelsea were superior in every department for such a long period that they will walk away from this thinking it was a defeat. Midfield was key for me and the Chelsea combination of Kante and Jorginho were too much for their counterparts.
Son Heung-min was extremely disappointing as Richarlison showed more in his first five minutes doing more than the Korean did for his full duration. It’s big games like this your best men need to stand up and be counted. Kane showed why he is a leader in this team as he fight for everything until he earned his reward. Son will need to improve if Spurs are to progress this season.
Chelsea have not lost the core of their team despite losing some influential players this summer. They have kept their best and brightest. They have replaced smartly in this window and by offloading Lukaku they have eliminated the drama that came with him not performing. Expect Chelsea to be in the top 3 this season. They may yet surprise us with their final position.
Looking forward to the return of this game as both these teams have a driving force behind them that will bring entertainment for years to come. If they both can stick around long enough to make it a rivalry. Both these managers have fire in the belly. Both are winners. The future is bright for each club.