Chelsea’s 3-0 win against Tottenham was truly a tale of two halves — or, to be more accurate, a tale on one-quarters and three-quarters.
The hosts at New Three Point Lane came out like a house on fire, putting great pressure on Chelsea, completely disrupting our rhythm, and forcing multiple last-ditch interventions from Thiago Silva & Co. And even when we were able to break through, our passing was not up to par, and cohesion was lacking.
While Chelsea did improve as the half wore on, a lot of that seemed to be a result of Spurs tiring after the first 20-25 minutes rather than anything we started doing better. Clearly, we needed to do better.
Thomas Tuchel was probably not a happy camper inside that dressing room at the break.
“I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes. There were individual performances that were already great like from Kepa and Thiago Silva, and even more players were good, but in general we lacked energy and being more relentless in duels.
“I had the feeling that we wanted to impress by pure skills but in a game like this in the Premier League, a derby away at Tottenham, it’s not only about skilful play. It’s also about aggression, winning duels and performing better as a team.”
“We lacked energy and we spoke clearly about it at half-time but the second half was a very good performance and a well-deserved win. It was a very good reaction so I’m absolutely happy with our performance in second half.”
-Thomas Tuchel; Source: Chelsea FC
For the third league game running, Tuchel made at least one half-time substitution, this time putting on N’Golo Kanté for Mason Mount, who had been playing well below his capabilities.
While on paper that looked like a system change from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, for Tuchel, the improvement was less in terms of tactics — Mount is more of a hybrid midfielder-attacker anyway — and more in terms of execution and effort. In fact, Kanté would end up scoring one of our three second-half goals as we out-shot Spurs 14 to 2 (10-to-1 on target) in the second 45 (it was 6-6 in the first).
“Actually we did not change the system but that is maybe the whole point. It seemed we changed the system but we just played it with more belief, more energy, more quality, sharper. It was simply too sloppy and not sharp enough in the first half.
“[Kanté] can change any momentum [and] we wanted to improve our compactness, ball wins, and spirit as a team. We wanted a higher intensity and work rate in our match to win balls actively and put the match in the opponent’s half. Then we can rely on our skills, that was the idea behind it.
“The reaction was absolutely needed but we showed it and played a very strong second half to deserve this win.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Chelsea began the day second on goal scored to Manchester United and finish top ahead of Liverpool on alphabetical order — well, technically,
we’re both first head-to-head, though we’ve only played once. It’s early and it’s very, very tight, but so far so good!
Manchester City next, and we’re going to need to pick up exactly where we left off today.