Chelsea ended the busy Christmas period by being thumped by London Rivals Spurs, leaving them hanging on to the lead in the Premiership by alphabet alone.
This was always going to be a far harder game than when Chelsea won easily at the beginning of December. Since that game Chelsea’s form has dipped, mainly due to fatigue in my opinion. This has coincided with Mauricio Pochettino starting to get the best from his rebuilt Spurs team.
The importance of today’s game was not lost on Jose. He needed to win, for after a relatively poor holiday showing, retaining a 3 point lead was critical for our confidence. Mourinho showed his hand by naming our attacking home line-up for a tough away day Derby. There was no sign of “containing” the game by fielding the team which includes Obi Mikel. This was going all out for a win!
The plan seemed to be working when Diego Costa got his 14th goal of the season in the 18th minute, bringing him level with Kun Aguero in the race for the golden boot.
Enter the star of today’s show Harry Kane. There is always much temptation to mistakenly draw early comparisons with former greats. Press and Pundits get carried away as soon as a bright spark appears who happens to be able to wear an England shirt. If he also is a centre forward, the love fest goes into overdrive…. Generally this ends up putting too much pressure on the player and they fade to grey in a hurry. Safe to say this kid has potential and its good to see a local lad get the chance in what is now the World’s top stage.
Kane scored the equalizing goal and also the 4th goal, he also gave the Chelsea defence their sternest test of the year, his holding skills, touch and distribution were as good as any of the superstars on display.
It all went wrong for Chelsea when Tottenham decided to show their newfound steely side. Following Kane’s equalizer, Spurs scored 2 goals in the last 2 minutes of the half to send the Blues into the dressing room in a state of shock.
Also Bentaleb, Eriksen and Chadli should all be commended for getting the better of the Chelsea midfield for the first time this season.
The second half saw Spurs score first, their 4th and from that moment the match was always out of Chelsea’s reach. The Blues pulled it back to a 2 goal margin when Hazard slotted home after a superb counter attack, but in truth party time at the Lane was in full throws.
It was a perfect day for Tottenham, as they moved into 5th as bitter rivals Arsenal fell at the hands of Southampton earlier in the day.
Its back to the drawing board for the Blues after a hugely disappointing Holiday period. It was always going to be a difficult time, considering our fixture list vs. Man City’s. As I predicted in the last write up, I thought we’d be tied at the top after all was said and done.
Mourinho needs to reassess following a string of games where we have visibly lost the killer edge we possessed earlier in the campaign. Fatigue has certainly played its part but there can also be a case to be made that by playing the same team for most of the time, the opposition has a lot of material to work with in finding a way to stifle our creativity.
Having a full strength squad is generally a huge benefit, but now and again the need to mix it up to avoid predictability may be necessary.
Of our “ever presents” this season it’s Matic, Cahill and Oscar that looked most ready to be rested. I would like to see Ramires and Schurrle feature a little more and also Kurt Zouma get some playing time with JT. As long as John Obi Mikel doesn’t get pushed to the fore, we should be ok!!
This is only the 3rd time in Jose’s career that a team of his has conceded 5 goals. So I’m sure we will see him ring some changes. I wonder if Petr Cech feels he now deserves a few Premiership games after today’s defensive debacle.
There is also no reason to panic. We are still Top after all!.. This is more about “a change is as good as a rest” philosophy than any serious fundamental floor in Jose’s grand plan. This is the best Chelsea team for many years and on its day the 11 men fielded against Spurs are not only our best side, but the best in the Premiership.
The season is a long one and we are only half way. I feel the odds are still with the Blues especially as we have just completed the hardest part of our fixture list and we have already played the other current Top 5 teams at their place of business.
We all have ultimate faith in Mourinho and the players and we ceratinly need to cut them a break. This is the usual ebb and flow of any Premiership season.
There is one thing though that is starting to bug me. Super Frank!!….. Not because he keeps helping City stay on our heels but beacuse he should not have agreed to extend his loan spell in Manchester from NYCFC under any circumstances. It was perfectly acceptable for him to play for City before the MLS season starts. Franchise association and his personal fitness the main drivers. Now he will miss the start of the MLS season…… this is wrong & I feel cheated by already paying for my NYCFC season ticket under the impression that Frank Lampard would be playing.
I would like a “part” refund as our star player is missing the beginning of the season due to a non- injury related issue…. I don’t think I will be the only one to complain…it belittles the MLS and destroys all the goodwill that Man City were actually getting via his joining their Yankees joint venture.