Tottenham can be satisfied with a point from the 1 – 1 draw with Chelsea as Andre Villas-Boas clearly was after the match. He acknowledged that Spurs’ second half performance was not as good as the first. Speaking to the BBC website, he said,
Tottenham and Chelsea drew at White Hart Lane with both clubs able to take a positive view of the result while knowing that there is room for improvement. For Spurs the point earned keeps them ahead of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs but allowed Liverpool to move into second on goals scored and enabled Arsenal to move two points clear at the top of the Premier League.
It’s a pity the second half was not good as the first – Chelsea were strong in the second and in the end it was a fair result.
1st Half Intensity:
As AVB indicated, Spurs’ first half display was excellent. After an initial period of testing by both sides, Tottenham got into their stride to take the lead, and not against the run of play as Danny Murphy suggested on Match of the Day. There was an intensity in Spurs’ first half performance where they closed down quickly and isolated John Terry as the defender to play the ball forward and as they had done against Norwich, Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen were able to regain possession or else the ball was over-hit and went straight through to Hugo Lloris.Midfield Power and Control:
In the first half Paulinho and Mousa Dembele were immense – gaining possession and giving the Chelsea midfield no time on the ball. They also powered forward with Paulinho being the player to get into the Chelsea area twice for clear goalscoring opportunities, only to be denied by a last ditch intervention by a defender and then by the outside of the post.
Creativity of Christian Eriksen:
In the first half Christian Eriksen ran the show, involved from the left in the build up to the goal as Chelsea struggled to cope with his movement and passing.
Hugo Lloris showed his importance to the Tottenham defence with lightening quick reactions to a striker breaking through. In the second half he was out twice to dive at the feet of in-rushing forwards to make crucial saves. He’ll be disappointed to have conceded a goal, only the second of the season, but there was little opportunity for him to do anything about it and his saves and overall display ensured Spurs took the point.
2nd Half Slip:
In the second half Chelsea came out much more fired up and Spurs never really got going again. The introduction of Juan Mata gave them a player to dictate play as Eriksen had done for Spurs before the interval. Chelsea copied Spurs first half style and quickly pressed Spurs back. Tottenham lost control of midfield and it was disappointing that they couldn’t regroup and come through again during the half. Although, to be fair, the players battled on even when it wasn’t going as they’d hoped or planned and didn’t succumb as previous Tottenham teams would have done in the heat of battle. Their second half play was more laboured and may have had something to do with it being their fourth match in ten days.
Substitutions:With Spurs’ loss of control in midfield after the interval, having been so strong in the first half, AVB had to make changes in that area. The introduction of Nacer Chadli didn’t bring any relief to the situation as with the removal of Andros Townsend, Spurs had lost the threat of attacking at pace on the right. Kyle Walker had to be very selective about his forays forward as Chelsea had Oscar posted on the left wing to take advantage of the space left by the full back when he went forward. The lack of pace reduced the Spurs threat on the right while with Kyle Naughton on the left, he couldn’t deliver crosses from the left as he preferred to use his right foot. The introduction of Sandro might have been the better option initially, in an effort to regain control which if achieved would have allowed for more creative substitutions before the end of the game.
Roberto Soldado’s lack of goals is a concern but at present he is contributing in other ways. He had an assist for the goal as he did against Norwich and was the creator for the opportunity for Paulinho which was only denied by a last ditch clearance. The problem is that Spurs as a team still haven’t worked out how best to provide goals for him. The team has only been together for six matches and with international breaks, European and Cup games and injuries they have had little opportunity to train together in a way to build up the understanding that is required. This will take time but with so many games to prepare for in the coming weeks plus another series of international games, it might take some time to build that understanding – fear not, it will come.
Mousa Dembele had a very forceful game and frequently picked up the ball in midfield and set off on a powerful forward run. My disappointment is that these runs end at the edge of the penalty area, rather than trying to power on into the box or take the opportunity of a shot before he’s finally closed down by defenders or retreating midfield players. Currently, as soon as he gets near the box, he’s looking to pass square or dwells on the ball and the momentum is lost. Other than that, he had a very good game.
Jan Vertonghen:Jan Vertonghen is portrayed as the defender who remains cool under pressure. Against Chelsea, he allowed himself to be rattled by Torres in the second half. Knowing that he had upset him, Torres kept it up to unsettle him and although the Spaniard was eventually sent off, he had achieved what he wanted by unsettling the normally calm Belgian defender’s composure. and adversely affecting his play. He’s an experienced player and in the heat of a derby game he should know what to expect and retain control rather than get involved.
We frequently draw comparisons between Vertonghen and Ledley King, but the retired, former Spurs’ captain wouldn’t have allowed himself to be drawn into a personal battle like that with Torres. He would have stood apart from what Torres was attempting to do to ensure that he gave of his best and came out on top where it mattered most – in the final result.
It was encouraging to see Tottenham taking on Chelsea and showing what they could do rather than hoping to survive. It was another match between the two sides at White Hart Lane over the past number of seasons where Chelsea were relieved to take a point. Since 2006-07 Spurs have won 3 and drawn 4 of the last 8 home games against Chelsea – a change from previous times, no matter what others try to make out. There were positives from the game for Spurs but with some things to work on in the months ahead.