By Sonny Turner
After a dismal first half, former Spurs midfielder and BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas was succinct in his appraisal. “There is no plan”. Nor was there one in the second half for Spurs. Chelsea, however, executed their plan with all the success required, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi constantly marauding down the right, with Ben Davies left isolated and helpless, new manager Thomas Tuchel evidently not afraid to throw men forwards. Unlike his dug-out counterpart.
With this being the first ever meeting between Tuchel and Jose Mourinho, the new man wasted no time in showing an attacking intent which the old man was unable to match. Spurs’ failure to create, with the exception of a poor header from Carlos Vinicius in the last few minutes which he really should have scored, made it a comfortable night for Chelsea who were never made to work defensively, instead being allowed to cruise to three points.
Mourinho’s management will continue to come under fire, just two wins in his last ten league games, the same amount Tuchel has in his opening three, the attractive football oasis Spurs fans got used to under Mauricio Pochettino, replaced by a barren wasteland of defensive inefficiency and wariness.
Chelsea started brightly, with a diagonal Cesar Azpilicueta pass finding Timo Werner in between the Tottenham defenders, who looped his header slightly wide of the goal. An early warning for Mourinho’s defence, which has now kept just one clean sheet in their last ten Premier League games, despite the over-emphasis on defending. A contrast to Tuchel’s short reign so far, in which the German has yet to concede a goal, despite his attacking emphasis.
A very brief sign of life was displayed by Spurs, breaking quickly with Heung-Min Son from a Chelsea corner but his pass to Vinicius was not capitalised on by the Brazilian, who failed to get the ball out from under his feet, with the onrushing Tanguy Ndombele left frustrated. Vinicius’ poor night, failing to get into the game, highlighted just how good Harry Kane really is, and how crucial he is to Spurs. Questions will be asked of Mourinho’s evident lack of adaptability without Kane.
After 23 minutes, the majority of it with the ball, Chelsea managed to break the deadlock, their early pressure paying off. Eric Dier brought down Werner in the box, with the resulting penalty fired into the bottom left corner past the stretching Lloris by Jorginho. Despite now being a goal down, the soulless performance continued for Spurs, midfielder Moussa Sissoko epitomising the lack of willingness and fight, pointing and gesturing to his team-mates about where to pass the ball, while simultaneously wandering around the pitch offering no help himself. To say Mourinho is unable to motivate his players looks like an accurate charge against the Spurs boss. Daniel Levy will have no doubt noticed the lack of improvement during this nightmarish run.
The game contained little of note past the goal, Chelsea’s energetic midfielders always in control, not allowing Spurs sustained possession of the ball, although they didn’t seem to want it anyway. Brief cameos from substitutes Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura provided at least some attacking intent, Spurs still only able to create the one good chance for Vinicius, while the omissions of Gareth Bale (on the bench) and Dele Alli (not in the squad) will worry Spurs fans, especially with their apparent failure to score goals with Kane injured.
While Chelsea fan’s will be more than happy with their new manager, Spurs supporters will want to respectfully remind Mourinho the words of club legend Danny Blanchflower, “the game is about glory, it’s about doing things in style and with a flourish”.