As Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League last night, which boosted their top 4 hopes. I look at the 5 key talking points from this London derby yesterday evening.
Before I start; Here are the highlights from this game for anyone who didn’t watch it;
- Line Up all wrong- There was no surprise at 7pm, when all Chelsea fans found out that Kepa was dropped for Caballero, after his antics in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday. And in my opinion that was the right decision. However the rest of the starting line up was baffling. After Sarri praised Emerson in his press conference midweek, most people thought that meant that he would play against Tottenham. However Sarri decided to bring Alonso back into the starting eleven to everyone’s surprise.
Secondly, the fact that Sarri also heaped praise onto Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek midweek was an indication to most of us that they would definitely play yesterday evening, especially considering the fact that they didn’t start in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday. But no, Sarri decided to opt for Kovacic and Pedro instead to many Chelsea fans frustration…
This line up meant that, if Chelsea were to lose tonight, then the blame would be solely on him for his team selection. It was just confusing the team that he selected, considering the comments that the Italian made midweek about some of the players specifically.
Anyhow, here was the team that started yesterday for the Blues, and here were some of the fan reactions before the game. It was fair tos say that not many people were feeling confident after seeing the team line up;
2. Chelsea started off the better team and ended the better team- The Blues came out of the blocks quickly and were unlucky not to take the lead early on, when Gonzalo Higuain’s sliced effort smashed Lloris’s post. The goalkeeper was rooted to the spot for that attempt.
And early on Chelsea had a swagger and an energy to them. However as the first half went on, Spurs grew into the game and should have taken the lead just before half time, when a Harry Winks effort looped onto Caballero’s bar to Chelsea’s relief.
There were some good moments for Chelsea due to their fast start, however not taking their chances early on allowed Tottenham to grow back into the first half.
The Blues were unlucky, and should have been rewarded for their fast start, when Azpilicueta’s cross in the 12th minute striked the outstretched hand of Ben Davies, and it appeared to be a clear penalty, but not in Andre Marriner’s opinion as he waved away Chelsea’s appeals.
Into the second half, Tottenham looked more lively, but when Pedro got the first goal- that killed off any confidence in the Spurs players, and that led to a collapse in the second half- which was demonstrated in the own goal from Trippier to make it 2-0 to Chelsea late on!
3. Mixed performances for the Chelsea players- On the whole the majority of the Chelsea players played so well tonight.
The players that stood out: Pedro, Alonso, Kante, Kovacic, and the rest of the back 4.
Ok performers: Higuain, Caballero.
Underperforming performances: Jorginho (in the attacking phase), and Hazard.
However Nizaar Kinsella did point out the fact that Jorginho did play better tonight in the defensive phase, despite giving the ball away on multiple occasions;
4. Chelsea defended as a unit again- Chelsea have now found the secret to gaining positive results in the big games.
By sitting back and defending- and hitting teams on the counter attack, like they did tonight and in the Carabao Cup on Sunday.
It’s hard to believe that Chelsea were smashed 6-0 at the Etihad over a 3 weeks ago playing expansive football.
That result has acted as a blessing in disguise, as Sarri realised that with this squad, he can’t go head to head in an attacking sense with the big teams.
And this had led to solid defensive performances in Chelsea’s last two games, against Tottenham yesterday, and Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final.
This is no surprise to me, as this squad of players are use to playing pragmatic football under Mourinho and Conte, and when they played the big teams under the management of these 2 coaches- they usually grinded out a positive result by: playing defensive football, but being lethal on the counter-attack.
5. Top 4 race still on- Chelsea had to win tonight, especially with both Manchester United and Arsenal comprehensively winning tonight.
And this result keeps Chelsea well and truly in the top 4 race.
The Blues are now 3 points off Arsenal in 4th, and 2 points off United in 5th. However the Blues have a game in hand on both those two teams in the top 4!
What also helps the Blues is the fact that Arsenal and Tottenham meet at the weekend. So if the Blues get the job done against their local rivals Fulham, then they will further close the gap to the top 4.
The key for Chelsea getting into the top 4 now, is by showing consistency in their performances and results that they pick up from now to the end of the season.
Here is a good summary of the match from Alex Goldberg on Twitter;
Chelsea next play on Sunday in the West-London derby against strugglers Fulham at 2:05pm. And Tottenham will look to bounce back in the North-London derby on Saturday, when they host Arsenal at the Emirates in the early kick-off (12:30pm).
Do you agree with my 5 key talking points from this match? Comment down below…
By Danyal Khan