Siao Mates Feb 05

Spurs 0 Chelsea 1 - Spurs sad in first half, but show signs of life in the second


 

It was really a tale of two halves for Tottenham Hotspur, and Jose Mourinho can finally say that Spurs had a much better second half than the first. 

 

Well okay, he said that about the terrible performance against Brighton as well, but apart from the most loyal of Mourinho fans, no one really believed him. 

 

This time round, he would be right. Of course, it wasn’t that Spurs were amazing after the break, but they have been so poor for so long now that the energy they showed in the second half was the most positive thing Spurs fans have seen for three games now.

 

WATCH: Mourinho says Chelsea defeat hard to take

 

It still highlights the massive problems Spurs have, as I said in my last article, but you can’t accuse the players of not trying. And it was an improved performance not only from the players, but even from the manager himself.  

 

No bizarre team selection and making the right substitutions as the game progressed. You won’t hear me ever wanting Tanguy Ndombele off, but Mourinho was right to take him out in the 68th minute as he was fading in the game. Lamela certainly gave more attacking impetus and it wouldn’t have been unfair had Spurs taken a point.

 

That said, they still lack the quality in attack, but at least it wasn’t as frustrating to watch as the first half. You can at least say that Harry Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon were missed because that bit of quality would probably have made the difference.

 

WATCH: Mourinho says Kane will be back in a 'couple of weeks'

 

You couldn’t say that about the past two games, because the whole team performance was so poor, but today, the players stepped up, at least for 45 minutes.

 

However, as most Spurs fans would tell you, the club is a master at raising our hope before crushing it like a cockroach in the next match. Our hope today is that Mourinho learned from the second half performance where the high energy, high press game made Spurs look so much better, and that they bring that same performance in that half into the next game against a poor West Brom.

 

Over to you, Mourinho.

 

Line-up:

Finally, for the first time in three matches, Jose Mourinho gives some semblance of the Tottenham Hotspur side that most fans probably would agree with, given their injuries. I’d probably still prefer Matt Doherty over Serge Aurier, Joe Rodon over Eric Dier and Lucas Moura over Steven Bergwijn, but at least there’s no player out of position like the last two games.

 

0-22nd min: Same old Spurs, but Chelsea not really dangerous either

Once again, Spurs are giving possession to Chelsea, but the Blues aren’t exactly clinical despite having most of the ball. Timo Werner has a half chance within 13 seconds, Son Heung-Min has one shot on target that goes straight to the keeper, but nothing much is really happening. There’s a distinct lack of energy from both sides, but Chelsea are pretty much dictating play.

 

23rd min: PENALTY! Crazy tackle from Dier!

Dier slides in to block Werner, the ball doesn’t go very far and on his backside, Dier kicks out a leg at the striker who is about to reach the ball. Dead on penalty. What was he thinking? A brain fart moment from the England man, who had, up to that point, been all right.

 

24th min: GOAL! Jorginho makes no mistake

Jorginho steps up and confidently plants the penalty into the bottom left corner. What will Spurs do now?

 

25-45th min: Apparently nothing.

Seriously, Spurs are creating nothing. Serge Aurier had one good header going wide from a Son free kick, but other than that, the most positive moment Spurs had in the rest of the half was seeing the excellent Thiago Silva limp off with an injury. But Spurs are offering so little in attack that Thomas Tuchel could put me in and Spurs wouldn’t come back into the game. And I’m 53 and never played any semblance of professional football in my entire life. Can Spurs prove me wrong?

 

46-65th min: Well, Spurs are playing much, much better

Without actually creating anything really dangerous, Spurs are finally playing football with more intent. They are showing far more energy, pressing much higher and getting to the ball first more often than not. Chelsea are still dangerous, creating a couple of half chances without really threatening, but Spurs are at least going for it.

 

66th min: Ridiculous by Dier. Again.

And of course Spurs have to be their own worst enemy. Under very little pressure, Dier sends a backpass to Hugo Lloris that looks a lot more like a cross, which forces the French custodian to give possession away. After neat build-up play from Chelsea, the ball reaches Mason Mount, who swings the ball in for a lunging Christian Pulisic, but Lloris does well to make a diving punch. A totally unnecessary danger started by Dier. He’s ruining his generally good defensive work with moments like this.

 

76th min: Lloris keeps Spurs in it

Werner slides a ball down for Mount, whose low shot towards the bottom right is parried well by a sprawling Lloris. The first real test of either keeper of the entire game.

 

79th min: Lamela returns the favour and makes Mendy save

It’s taken 79 minutes, but substitute Erik Lamela finally shows that Spurs do have some attacking teeth. From 25 yards out, he curls one towards the bottom left and Mendy turns it round with his fingertips. Spurs still in it!

 

87th min: Vinicius almost rescues it!

Aurier, set free on the right, finally sends in a quality cross that finds a leaping Carlos Vinicius free in the area. He tries to guide the ball into the bottom left corner with his head but to his agony and mine, the ball goes wide! You sense this was the chance and it’s now gone.

 

90th min: Son! Almost!

Son gets the ball on the edge of the box with an open shot at goal! Can the South Korean save Spurs again? No, he can’t! He blasts the ball over the bar, but it was a great piece of football in the build-up.  

 

Spurs showed in the second half that they are a far better team than the tepid performances of late. They still have a lot of problems attacking, but had they played the first half like they did the second, they would probably have gotten a draw.  

 

That said, this was a match of two teams with no real cutting edge. Chelsea won simply because they were more assertive from the start, but unless the Blues get better upfront, they will struggle to make the top four this season. 

 

WATCH: Kovacic wants Chelsea to be more ruthless in front of goal

 

Spurs, though, will need to take heart from that second half performance and replicate it consistently, especially against weaker teams like their next game, West Brom. If they can do it for 90 minutes and thrash the Baggies, it will nicely set them up for the next two very tough matches, the FA Cup tie against Everton and then Manchester City at the Etihad.  

 

It was a disappointing match for Spurs fans for sure, but for the first time in three league matches, we saw a bit of the Spurs from the earlier part of the season. 

 

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