Spurs Ruin Chelsea’s Party
It’s only one game, said Mauricio Pochettino, shortly after Wednesday night’s heart-thumping 2-0 win over record-chasing Chelsea.
It was perhaps, as much as anything, a remark aimed at the fans, whose excited silhouettes could be seen floating down Seven Sisters Road as they made their way home. Spiralling and bumping into each other like silly, giddy balloons.
Sadly for the Argentine coach, he’ll have a hard time underplaying this victory or tempering the joy and, now, expectations of the home support. That’s not a performance that inspires restraint.
Chelsea were the runaway juggernaut, unable to be stopped, hurtling toward inevitable Premier League glory. But, just like Guardiola’s Man City were dislodged from their unshakable groove back in early-October, Pochettino found a method of toppling the giant.
It helps, of course, if you’ve got someone in your ranks in the kind of dazzling form Dele Alli’s in currently. It’s one thing to help yourself to a brace against a side as defensively liberal as Watford, quite another to manage it against a vinegar-soaked conker of a side like Chelsea.
Before Wednesday’s encounter, the West London club had the meanest rear guard in the division. Alli’s clever movement and bottomless energy reserves, however, made César Azpilicueta and David Luiz, who’ve been imperious this season, look like pilots who’d just finished centrifuge training.
Never mind Pedro claiming that Danny Rose has been the toughest opponent he’s encountered this campaign, how many Blues defenders would want to face the young England midfielder anytime soon?
So many colossal performances, as to make it unfair to single anyone out. Toby Alderweireld did that neat trick of co-coordinating his impeccably tailored hair-do with the faultlessness of his defending. He showed why he might just be the finest in the Division.
Eriksen had a productive evening. The delivery for both Alli’s goals were laser-sighted in their accuracy. The inventiveness he exhibited in the tight areas of space between Chelsea’s midfield and backline had Spurs fans reminiscing about Luka Modrić. After feeling sad for a bit, they remembered they had Mousa Dembélé as well and suddenly everything was okay again.
Many folk’s choice for MOTM, though, was Victor Wanyama. A vital co-architect of the win, in that he almost single-handedly dominated the war in midfield with N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matić. To the extent that the French powerhouse was removed on tactical grounds in the second half, which I’m reliably informed, is the earliest sign of an impending apocalypse.
Wanyama provided the perfect shield for Pochettino’s back-three. Tackling, harrying, squeezing space and generally pouring buckets of water on the fires of Chelsea’s counterattacks. A mammoth shift.
As Tim Sherwood said, in a rare moment of clarity, when talking about the idea that Spurs could go under the radar again this season. You can forget it. It’s over, he said.
Tottenham are contenders.