Spurs’ come back win against Everton now seems a long time ago. It’s been a very frustrating season, with occasional good performances being the exception not the rule.
Possibly Everton were not a good yardstick. Roberto Martinez’s team have lots of talent but we match up well against them. They are a non-aggressive, possession based side, who come out and attack you with their fullbacks. Spurs have had trouble against physical, counter attacking opponents, who stay compact.
Teams that flood the centre of the pitch and sit back deny us the space our narrow play needs to function. Teams that challenge our players physically show up their lack of fight. Teams that break at pace and play through balls embarrass our slow defence.
Of course, nobody expected us to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – no Spurs manager has won there since the days of Terry Venables.
The performance was actually promising despite the scoreline. We started well, with Harry Kane hitting the woodwork early on and going close from a tight angle not long after but then mistakes cost us the game.
For once even Lloris had a tough time, possibly at fault for Hazard’s goal and certainly culpable for the second after a poor clearance.
The statistics don’t look so bad. Spurs had 61% of possession. They pressured Chelsea well making 31 tackles to Chelsea’s 17 despite having more of the ball, and only lost out marginally on the shot count, 12-10.
However, the stat that’s really telling is Chelsea’s 8 shots on target to our 2. Mourinho’s side were clinical and that was the difference.
As an aside, I was disappointed that Soldado was dropped. He has been ineffectual since his arrival and I understand the logic of an extra body in midfield against a side as dangerous as the league leaders. However, the Spaniard’s winner at Everton was his first league goal since Cardiff back in March. Sherwood dropped him for the next game then too. It can’t help his confidence.
Tottenham’s two problems of late have been thrashings against the bigger teams and an inability to put away lesser opponents at home. With the former already firmly demonstrated at Stamford Bridge, we set about providing further evidence for the latter in the home game against Palace.
After a run of three starts, Aaron Lennon was dropped to the bench. This was curious timing – it was Lennon’s introduction against Hull, and the width he’d given the team, that helped open up a stubborn Hull defence. Why play so narrow against a side who were bound to sit back and congest the central areas?
This was compounded by Chiriches’ absence at fullback. He is prone to some dreadful errors but has offered us an attacking option at right back that we have been sorely lacking. Dier just doesn’t give us that.
Tottenham were lucky Lloris was back to his usual imperious best, particularly when he clawed away a header from Scott Dann that looked destined for the net.
Despite Spurs struggling to break Palace down, Soldado missed some reasonable chances that could have earned us the three points.
This was another game where we won the possession battle, with an impressive 68%. However the shot count was marginally in our visitors favour, 16-14, and to be fair, Palace looked the more likely winners.
It is intriguing that Kaboul and Adebayor – Spurs captain and vice-captain – have been missing since the international break. Based on their form this year, I don’t think we have missed them.
Under Pochettino, Tottenham seem to take one step forward, then two back, never getting any momentum. Maybe the answer is some new faces in January.
Who did you think deserved the three points at the weekend? Was Lennon unlucky not to start? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.