Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel clash in heated arguments, both during the game and at full-time, as Harry Kane’s late header rescues the Italian’s side from defeat in a 2-2 draw.
Tottenham’s travels to Stamford Bridge have never been very successful with only one win since February 1990. However, this new look Spurs outfit was as likely as any other to stand in the way of a Chelsea victory.
The game started poorly for the North London side as a two new signings combined as Marc Cucurella found Kalidou Koulibaly who connected sweetly with the ball and found the top corner. Koulibaly was completely unmarked and the issues of conceding from set pieces continue from last season for Conte, despite the appointment of set piece coach Gianni Vio.
The only saving grace for Tottenham going into half-time was that it was only a one goal deficit they had to reduce. The options of Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perišić, as well as expected debutant Richarlison, provided Conte with the ability to bring much needed improvements off the bench.
The first change came around the hour mark, when Richarlison came on and brought with him the tactical adjustment to a 4-4-2 formation, moving Heung-Min Son further back. This provided instant impact and Spurs started to get the ball down and play, creating some half-chances in the process.
One of those half-chances were taken after a controversial goal was scored by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, as Kai Havertz appeared to be fouled in the build-up a while before the equaliser.
The controversy surrounding this goal wasn’t helped by Conte celebrating directly in front of Thomas Tuchel, instigating a large gathering of players and staff from both clubs. It resulted in both managers being booked, along with a member of staff from each team. This was the initial incident that threw us back to the ‘Battle of the Bridge.’
However, the goal was not used in Tottenham’s advantage as they seemingly lost positional discipline. Reece James took on Son, who can often be defensively inept, on a few occasions, with one finding Havertz who somehow fired wide from six yards away. As a Tottenham fan, it started to feel like things might once be going our way at Stamford Bridge.
This slight hope was killed by the team’s inability to adapt quickly to the defensive requirements of the new formation, leaving Reece James free in the box to slot home.
Tuchel followed this goal with a Jose Mourinho-esque run along the touchline, which normally would result in a booking. The referees deemed it to not be a yellow card offense and the German manager walked back to his technical area on his final warning.
Conte’s response to the goal was to revert back to the wing-backs, bringing on Perišić, Bissouma and Lucas Moura to try and take the game to Chelsea.
This seemed to have not worked out until Jamie Carragher announced Reece James as Man of the Match. Commentator’s curse took over James as he went on to give a needless free-kick away moments later, which resulted in back-to-back corners for the Lilywhites.
Perišić’s ball in from the set-piece was inch perfect and Harry Kane edged closer to beating the Tottenham goalscoring record after converting the Croatian’s cross, sending the away end into raptures.
The drama didn’t end there, as Tuchel shook hands with Conte at full-time but refused to let go of his hand and caused yet another war of words between the two. The intervention of nearly all the players on the pitch ensued, finally closing with both managers seeing red.
Tottenham’s new signings didn’t let it ruin their mood in any way as Bissouma went over to the travelling fans and showed them his appreciation, along with Richarlison and Perišić.
What does this mean for Antonio Conte’s team? He will be disappointed about his red card, however, the impact of the new signings off the bench demonstrate this is a new era for Spurs. The squad depth from last season to now is such a vast improvement and will unquestionably help the Lilywhites when facing tough opposition.
One point gained that may be crucial come the end of the season. Conte cam will certainly be an interesting watch this time around.