Same old Spurs, eh?
Tottenham missed a chance to take a (temporary) three-point lead atop the Premier League thanks to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Spurs were the better team in the first half and took a lead midway through thanks to a nice link-up combination from Christen Eriksen, Roberto Soldado and finish by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Alas, it was not to be another 1-0 win for Andre Villas-Boas team.
After the break Jose Mourinho brought on the estranged Juan Mata and the game changed. It wasn’t a seismic change but it was enough. The Blues kept knocking on the door and finally broke through on John Terry's header from a freekick taken by (of course) Mata. Allow me a second to wipe the vomit off my keyboard. (As unlikable as Terry might be as a person, in fairness his goals on set pieces have been a valuable piece of the Chelsea puzzle for over a decade now.)
And naturally since this was a marquee Premier League game we ended with a dash of the absurd after Fernando Torres drew his second yellow card of the day on this seemingly innocuous aerial clash with Jan Vertonghen. If you’re scoring at home the Belgian defender pulled down an opponent’s pants AND got Torres sent off in the span of five days. Take a bow.
Perhaps Vertonghen had his reasons to oversell the foul, considering Torres appeared to scratch his face earlier in the match.
If there are any quick takeaways from this one it’s Spurs still aren’t ready for primetime, for lack of a better term. When the game got scrappier in the second half, Tottenham faded and were left to rue a couple missed chances in the first half to go ahead 2-0, notably on chance for Paulinho inside the box. Spurs certainly possess loads of talent across the board but turning all that into a winning club that holds on to win clashes with the top squads like Chelsea isn’t something you snap your fingers and accomplish.
As for Chelsea, we should expect more of this cagey, hemmed in approach from Mourinho when he faces some of the tougher teams on the road. Saturday his team got a goal from a set piece, unlike the game earlier in the month with Manchester United which finished 0-0 and put everyone watching to sleep. This is not the high-energy squad we saw at the end of last season under Rafa Benitez, which took home the Europa League trophy.