Tottenham exposes Chelsea’s weaknesses with 3-1 humiliation at Wembley

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It was the modern Tottenham Hotspur shot through with the Mauricio Pochettino rebel spirit that has seen them crash the English game’s elite which turned up at Wembley, and did not so much gently snap this unbeaten Chelsea league run, as bulldoze it into the ground.

All the good parts of Pochettino-era Spurs were in evidence at the club’s temporary home, disrupting the Chelsea system, plucking at the insecurities of David Luiz and then picking their visitors off with a first half goalscoring ruthlessness. They might have had many more if Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Heung-min Son had taken their chances but then those that they did convert were glorious, and still they kept coming back for more.

This was one of those days when everything thrown at Pochettino – the extended Wembley exile, the great transfer window non-event – seemed to matter not a bit and his side play edlike title contenders, hanging on courageously to the league leaders’ coat-tail. The Argentinian showed up afterwards full of faux modesty, tutting away at the suggestions he had bested Maurizio Sarri in organisation and instead redirecting all credit towards his players.

But he did have one message for them at the end as he reflected on a run of five straight wins in all competitions that sees them now sitting third behind the unbeaten Manchester City and Liverpool.  “With the right attitude we need to realise we are a team who can compete at this level,” he said. “The problem is when we struggle to show the real quality because have a lack of aggression and the right attitude and then it is difficult to perform the way we did today.”

Not much wrong with this performance, save a late headed goal from the substitute Olivier Giroud after Spurs had missed a couple of second half opportunities. Sarri said later that Pochettino had caught him out with a tweaked formation that had Kane and Christian Eriksen playing ahead of Dele, all partly responsible for a Chelsea defensive performance that the Italian described bluntly as “a complete disaster”.

The Spurs manager was not prepared to entertain discussion of his team’s effective nullifying of Chelsea’s best parts, including the close attention given by Dele to Jorginho, the little Brazilian playmaker whose space was blocked and confined everywhere he went. The high point was unquestionably Son’s goal, Spurs’ third, where he went past Jorginho and then Luiz, who bought the deceit in the attacker’s feint without much persuading.

Luiz also seemed to get out the way of the shot for Kane’s goal, in the manner of a line judge evading the big ace and Sarri charitably suggested that his defender was trying to avoid putting a deflection on it. When it goes badly for Luiz it does so in spectacular fashion but at least he could say he did not hide away from the chasing Chelsea were given. He and Antonio Rudiger suffered at times but they might also point to the lack of traction gained by Willian and Alvaro Morata in attack

In the final minutes, Chelsea had to endure the indignity of Erik Lamela introducing some late entertainment, brushing his foot over the ball, dropping a shoulder, and generally taking whatever liberties he could. The away side should have had a penalty between the first two Spurs goals when the young Argentine defender Juan Foyth crashed into Eden Hazard in the area and although he escaped, Sarri was reluctant to say that it would have changed the course of the game.

Pochettino did it while resting Jan Vertonghen, presumably with Wednesday’s Champions League group game against Inter Milan at Wembley in mind, which Spurs must win. Dele’s goal was his sixth goal against Chelsea in six games. This winning run of Spurs now stretches five games, back to that defeat to Manchester City at Wembley on Oct 29 and it has given them momentum to take into Wednesday and then the derby against Arsenal next Sunday.

There were some marvellous moments from Spurs in the first half and not just in the two goals. From a long ball hit quickly over the top by Dele, there was a feathered touch from Son to stun and then spirit possession away from Luiz with a marvellous piece of skill. Spurs cut their opposition into little pieces all over the attacking third, between Dele, Christian Eriksen and Son.

Then there was Kane who scored the second, a shot taken way earlier than expected when instinct told him that there was a channel running behind Luiz and inside Kepa Arrizabalaga’s right post and the England captain went for it. Luiz swayed out the way of the shot and the ball was in. The Brazilian defender would later tear the front of Kane’s shirt in a wrestle at a corner although if it was intended to provoke Kane’s temper it appears that he still does not have one.

The first goal was a free-kick from the right perfectly placed by Eriksen for Dele to glance past Arrizabalaga. Spurs disrupted Chelsea all over the pitch, including N’Golo Kante, who was harassed in possession at all times. The third goal was a delight for Spurs with Son beginning out on the right, going first past Jorginho and then Luiz whose confident sense of misjudgement never seemed stronger than in that moment.

This was exhilarating stuff from Spurs, an embarrassment being inflicted on an old rival and the home fans loved it. Sarri beckoned the dismal Morata to come off and also Mateo Kovacic whose rabona straight to Dele had been one of the first half’s low points for Chelsea. Nothing could really get Sarri’s team passing the ball or creating chances.

Spurs managed the game from there with Kane somehow missing from a few yards out after Serge Aurier had been set away on the overlap. Dele might have had another a minute later with a shot inside the box. They never got another good sight of goal and had a wobble towards the end when Giroud rose to meet Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross to head the ball decisively past Hugo Lloris. A strange time for the Frenchman who did more in his time on the pitch than Morata, although really that was saying very little.

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