EPL giant Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday put a stop to Chelsea’s sprint to a record equalling 14-games winning streak.
In what seemed like a poetic ending given that the Blues’ run started after a defeat in North London – as they fell to Arsenal at the Emirates – and came to an end in the same city albeit different ground, this time at White Hart Lane.
Pochettino lined up his men in a Chelsea-mirrored 3-4-3 while the visitors stuck to their most stable first eleven. The first half was a collection of half passes, uncoordinated runs and attacks, disruption-focused midfield battles and half chances all from both sides. Conte’s men found it hard to play with their usual rhythm and from their body language one could tell they weren’t alarmingly bordered afterall the same scenario played out the last time both clubs met at Stamford Bridge.
So they waited it out hoping to seize a counter-attacking opportunity and probably close shop while waiting for the home team to tire out and may be punish them some more. It didn’t work. Tottenham had learned every tiny detail of all mis-steps they took last time out and everything they did was aimed at correcting them. From back-pedalling on their over-eager high presses to Wanyama’s declaration of war on anything good that were supposed to come out from the midfield paring of Nemanja Matic and N’golo Kante.
The aforementioned back and forth drama was what viewers were treated to until Christian Eriksen’s calmly taken cross was found Delle Alli who diverted it home just at the brink of the half time whistle.
Even at 1-0 the feeling of deja-vu could hardly be denied by the home fans or the team. Chelsea came out hoping to fire up their dormant first half display where almost half of the team had an off night: from the defence to the flanks as Moses and Alonso flattered to deceive. The Blues’ midfield duo were ransacked by that of the Spurs’. Lynchpin Eden Hazard tried as much as he could to drive up his team’s forward approach but the Belgian’s effort yielded little or no fruit as the rest of his mates operated on a frequency lower than his. Diego Costa’s comic-relieving berating of Pedro as they both engaged in a shouting match that embarrassingly dragged on for minutes summed up the frustrating night.
Spurs’ second goal damaged spirits. The ones that had held on to the fantasy of a typical Blues comeback, prayed for a successful counter to be finished by Costa, waited for Eden Hazard to do what he does best: pull tricks from his magician hat with dazzling dribbles, electrifying one-twos and flashy finishing.
Alli killed them, it made Chelsea realise that they could actually lose a match not minding the winning streak they were supposed to equal. Conte’s defence let him down by being so flat you had wondered if they had no idea of how fluid and dynamic the Spurs’forward line can be.
Late runs and changes hardly altered the match’s set course and come full time Chelsea were walking down the changing room with their tails between their legs. The 3 points saw Spurs go 3rd while the gap between Chelsea and the rest of the league got shorter. They face Leicester City come next week and Conte can only hope this loss doesn’t disrupt his team’s self-belief.