After a spirited but rightful unrewarding performance against the European Champions Kenny Palmer reviews the game and other issues that came out of it regarding Kyle Walker.
Andre Villas-Boas was denied his redemption and revenge as Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea confirmed their status as the Barclays Premier leagues pace setters with a deserved win over Tottenham, although a 4-2 score line was flattering for the visitors.
Spurs were hindered from the start as they were without their two principle creative lights; Gareth Bale who was at the birth of his daughter and Mousa Dembele who had not recovered from his long standing hip injury which he aggravated while on international duty for Belgium against Scotland.
Tottenham as a result lost the midfield battle to Chelsea. As fine a footballer as he is, Tom Huddlestone doesn’t compliment Sandro as well as Dembele and his lack of mobility compromised Spurs in the midfield area.
As has been a feature of Spurs this season they started the match slowly and were behind early after a poor cleared header from William Gallas was dispatched with some aplomb from Gary Cahill.
Spurs laboured during the reminder of the half without any conviction of looking like they would get back into the game.
Following a similar pattern of the team’s previous home games, Spurs came out in the second half with a much better attitude and tempo to their play helped by Dempsey and Sigurdsson switching positions. Dempsey played in the advanced midfield position behind Jermain Defoe linking the midfield and attack while Sigurdsson was deployed on the left side of midfield. The Icelandic midfielder has flattered to deceive since joining Spurs and bar his performance against Reading has been very poor. Watching the Brazilian Willian shine against Chelsea for Shakhtar Donestsk during the week makes you realise Spurs missed out a potential creative jewel who would have been able to play anywhere across the forward line.
Spurs early 2nd half good play paid off quickly as they equalised through Gallas and took the lead through Defoe in a 10 minute spell. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold the lead as they were undone again by sloppy and poor defensive play by Gallas ,whose poor clearance was punished by the outstanding Juan Mata. The former French international was also at fault for Chelsea’s 3rd goal getting caught out by Eden Hazard’s exquisite pass to Mata who scored his 2nd.
With Kyle Naughton fit and Benoit Assou-Ekotto back in training it’s now time for Jan Vertonghen to return to central defence, on current form partnering Steven Caulker at the expense of Gallas. When all centre backs are fit it will be interesting to know who Villas-Boas preferred starting pair are!
Emmanuel Adebayor who made his much heralded return from injury missed a good opportunity to make it 3 – 3 before Mata set up Sturridge to give Chelsea’s win a flattering score line although they were the better team.
Reports have suggested the Togolese international is unhappy at not being an automatic starter. Defoe’s excellent start and form to the season has earned him the right to start. Villas-Boas has since dismissed the reports of Adebayor being unsettled.
Chelsea’s 4th goal was the result of poor defensive play from Kyle Walker who has been poor all season. The abuse he took from some fans at the stadium was amplified by the abuse he received on twitter to the extent that one *fan* wished he died. As a result Walker deleted his twitter account. His closing tweets were:
“Would love to know what I’m doing so different I give 100% every game and still U something to say I’m 22 and learning #embarrassing”
“If I said what I thought to these people I would get done humans make mistakes it was 90mins and I thought a foul end off!!!!”
Tottenham have always had a reputation as having some of the most fickle fans, the over the top reaction and unjustified abuse Walker has received has reinforced that view.
What has been noticeable at the home games this season at the Lane has been the flat atmosphere with a sense the crowd are quick to turn on any player having a poor game or heaven forbid making a mistake. Undoubtedly some fans seem to think the club has a sense of entitlement and should be in the higher echelons of the league as a right, driven by new levels of expectation after successive top five finishes.
A level of perspective is needed as it’s no disgrace losing to a team which has invested heavily in the summer with real quality. Spurs remain 5th only a point behind 4th placed Everton and play basement dwellers Southampton in their next league game.
Before then Spurs fly out to Slovenia to face Maribor in the Europa League looking for a much needed first win in the completion.
It will be an opportunity to give Adebayor more game time if fit as reports say he has a back complaint and now Kyle Naughton is fit he should also start.
What the defeat to Chelsea did highlight is that shorn of Dembele and Bale the team lacks a creative spark but still has a competitive spirit.
Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )
It’s an important period for Tottenham with a must win Europa League game in Maribor tonight ( it’s live on ITV4 at 6pm), followed by a league game at Southampton on Sunday and the Capital Cup match at Norwich next Wednesday. AVB will be looking for us to go on an undefeated run again whilst utilising the whole squad.
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