SUNDAY 20th AUGUST, 2017
(at Wembley Stadium)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) CHELSEA 2(1)
Batshuayi (o.g.), 82
Alonso, 24, 88
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- G. Beswick & A. Nunn
Fourth official:- M. Dean
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Lloris(Capt.); Dier (sub Son, 68), Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier (sub Janssen, 90+1), Wanyama, Dembele, Davies (sub Sissoko, 80); Eriksen, Dele; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Wimmer, Walker-Peters; Winks
Booked:- Dier (foul on David Luiz), Vertonghen (foul on Moses), Alderweireld(foul on Pedro), Kane (foul on Kante)
Chelsea (3-4-1-2):- Courtois; Azpilicueta (Capt.), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, David Luiz, Alonso; Kante; Willian (sub Pedro, 78), Morata (sub Batshuayi, 79)
Subs not used:- Caballero; Tomori; Scott, Kenedy, Musonda
Booked:- Rudiger (Dissent after foul on Kane), David Luiz (foul on Eriksen), Alonso (Dissent)
Well, charity does begin at "home", doesn't it?
Chelsea, supposedly in disarray due to the enforced absences through suspension of Cahill and Fabregas, and injury to Eden Hazard, beat Spurs for the fourth consecutive time at Wembley, ending our unbeaten home record (albeit in a temporary home), and continuing our so called Wembley hoodoo.
In truth, Spurs gifted Chelsea both their goals, conceding an unnecessary free kick in a dangerous position, and after clawing their way back to even terms with Batshuayi's own goal from an Eriksen free kick, Victor Wanyama conceded possession in his own half and allowed Alonso to race away and score his second goal of the game. Even Hugo Lloris was at fault, allowing the ball to slip under his body. The draw was really the least we deserved.
Wembley stadium was not sold out, due to safety restrictions placed upon general sales of tickets, but the crowd of 73,587 is of course a new Premier League record for a Spurs home game. No doubt this will be exceeded during the course of the season. Spurs did their best to whip up the atmosphere with the issue of flags to the home fans. Somewhat embarrassingly they also played a drum intermittently over the P.A system in an effort to enthuse the fans. Spurs fans can do atmospheres for themselves, thanks!
Such orchestrated support is heard in Europe, but was jeered by the 3,000 Chelsea fans who made plenty of noise on their way into the ground and at various stages during the game. Of course they have gloating rights because they are the Premier League champions, and because they have a Champions League title to their name. Sadly, Chelsea also took those gloating rights out of today's game.
Conte adjusted his team cleverly, with David Luiz in front of the back four alongside new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko, making his Premier League debut after his summer signing from Monaco. There were other new signings (Christensen and Rudiger) in the back three. Moses and Alonso were familiar wing-backs, but Kante was often found in front of the four, but behind Willian and Morata.
Spurs matched the formation, and included Kieran Trippier on the right after he had passed a late fitness test this week-end.
Chelsea kicked off, playing towards the West Stand, and took the game to Spurs in the early stages with Morata missing an easy header after a ball by Azpilicueta.
Spurs won a free kick at the other end, taken by Eriksen, and Dier's shot was deflected for a corner. Harry Kane was busy, although I didn't see much of him in the closing stages of the game. Harry is still searching for a Premier League goal in August, but Courtois wasn't confident when failing to hold Harry's effort after a neat turn, run and shot. Mousa Dembele, Ben Davies, and Kane were involved in a good move down the left flank, but Harry's cross was too deep.
Dele Alli had a good chance from a bit of an angle on the left after collecting Dier's ball, but he scooped the shot too high.
Chelsea were defending strongly, and physically, with Spurs having to battle for every inch of ground. However, Conte's side was also able to break with speed, and the likes of Willian and Moses too often found space. Spurs weren't getting much change out of referee Anthony Taylor to say he least.
Dembele latched onto a Kieran Trippier pass, and advanced on goal, hitting a driven shot which Courtois tipped over. At the other end, David Luiz was jeered when he skied a shot way over the target, after receiving from Willian.
Courtois made a good save from Dele but Chelsea had been awarded a free kick anyway.
David Luiz was somewhat needlessly fouled only 22 yards from goal by Dele Alli. Lloris lined up his wall, but was still beaten to his left by Alonso, who lifted his kick over the wall.
Following a Spurs free kick on the left and a corner taken by Ben Davies, Toby Alderweireld met the ball at the near post, but headed wide. Harry Kane seemed to be impeded in the box as he shot, but nothing was given, and the shot, which had the sting taken out of it, was saved. Another Kane shot passed wide across the goal.
The game had started to get a little more physical and niggly, with the referee showing his card to both Dier and David Luiz. Wanyama had a near post shot go wide from an Eriksen free kick. I felt that Victor was off his game today, and of course he was culpable for Chelsea's second half winner.
Wanyama did win another free kick after receiving from Dembele, but Eriksen's shot was wide. After good skill by Dele, and a pass to Kane, Harry beat Courtois with his shot across the keeper, but the ball rebounded off the far post. Another inch or two the right way, and Spurs would have been deservedly level. A follow-up shot by Wanyama was saved. As we went into three minutes of first half added time, Spurs put on the pressure winning successive corners, but could not force a goal.
Spurs started the second half well too, carrying on where they had left off. Great interplay by Kane and Eriksen led to an Eriksen shot, and another Spurs corner, but still no goal. After more Kane battling play and a cross by Davies, the ball ricocheted off two Chelsea players and into the arms of the grateful Courtois.
Trippier ran onto a good long ball by Alderweireld but could not find Spurs feet with his cross. Eriksen fed Dele as he entered the box on the left and his return pass hit a Chelsea arm, but Spurs got nothing for that.
To be honest, I was surprised that Eric Dier, and not Wanyama was the first substitution, but Dier was on a yellow. Son was lively, but Spurs still lacked penetration. Wanyama had a great chance after good work by Dembele and Son, but he pushed his shot wide.
Willian made a fast break, and passed left to Morata, who won a corner with his shot. Following the corner Moses hit a rising shot over the bar. Chelsea were now finding too much space, as Morata fed Willian from the left, and his shot beat Lloris, but rebounded off Hugo's right post.
No doubt this was a good game for non-partisan TV viewers, but time was slipping by and Spurs were still behind, despite another Eriksen shot, and Kane possibly getting a slight pull after Dembele's run into the box.
Spurs had reverted to a four at the back when Dier went off, but when Ben Davies was replaced by Sissoko, they went three at the back again with Alderweireld, Wanyama and Vertonghen across the back. Sissoko was nominated as left wing-back.
At last Spurs drew level. After Dele was fouled out on the left, Eriksen's nicely flight end free kick was involuntarily headed past his keeper by Chelsea substitute Batshuayi. It was no less than Spurs deserved.
Sadly, Spurs soon conceded again, and now it was too late to make a comeback. Wanyama could not get to grips with a midfield ball in his own half (not Sissoko as some automatically assumed). Pedro and Alonso advanced on the Spurs goal, and Lloris really should have saved Alonso's shot scored in front of his adoring and noisy away fans. That was the cue for a Spurs exodus towards the exits and an attempt to beat the queues at the various tube and railways stations.
Janssen was an added time substitute, but he didn't even get a touch that I saw.
Next week we entertain Burnley, and if we can win that game the "mini-tournament" between the three teams (Spurs, Chelsea, and Burnley) will be tied. Exciting that, isn't it?
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