Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur, where to start. It was a game that was pure Barclays Premier League. However, if you are a Chelsea fan, it won’t have felt like that when the full-time whistle went. The game had a score line that didn’t reflect the game, nor should it have finished the way it did. Chelsea deserved 3 points, and only came away with 1, through no fault of their own.
Chelsea took a while to find their feet in the first half. But once they did, they looked sharp, fluid, and in control. After a spell of Spurs possession in the opening minutes, once Chelsea got on the ball, there was only one team that looked like scoring. 19 minutes in, and new signing Marc Cucurella whipped in a wonderful ball from a corner, which was met beautifully by Kalidou Koulibaly to put Chelsea a goal to the good. The new centre-back struck the ball first time on the volley, giving Hugo Lloris no chance as it powered past him. It was a striker’s technique, as he opened the scoring and his account for the Blues.
Half-time ticked around, after a stellar performance from Chelsea and an underwhelming performance from Spurs. Tuchel’s team had looked bright and had been by far and away the better team.
The second half got underway, and the game picked up where it left off. Midway through the second half, and Kai Havertz turned away beautifully from Rodrigo Bentancur as he looked ahead to goal, before being brought down and fouled by the Spurs midfielder. Referee Anthony Taylor saw no wrong doings, and allowed play to continue, much to the dismay of Havertz, his teammates and Thomas Tuchel.
After some possession for Spurs, the ball fell to Pierre-Emile Hojberg, who shot from distance and found the back of Edouard Mendy’s net. The goal hurt Chelsea, as the run of play would never have happened if Anthony Taylor had awarded the foul on Havertz in the first place. Not only this, but upon reflection, Spurs substitute Richarlison looks to be stood in an offside position as the goal goes in. It must be said that on another day, the goal gets ruled out. It was harsh on Chelsea, but the goal stood, and the game was level.
Antonio Conte’s decision to bring on Richarlison gave Spurs a bit more life, and the Chelsea defence a bit more to think about. It didn’t stop Chelsea from taking their lead back though, as Sterling dragged the defence out wide, leaving Reece James in acres of space to tap home from close range.
The game’s biggest controversy came in added time, came when Spurs put late pressure on the Blues. In the dying minutes, Spurs gained a couple of corners. Late into stoppage time, when one of the corner kicks was taken, Tottenham defender Cristian Romero aggressively fouled Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella and dragged him to the ground by his hair. It was violent conduct and was more than worthy of a red card.
Referee Anthony Taylor got a perfect view of the foul, and amazingly, saw nothing wrong with the challenge, despite being alerted by VAR of it. Neither the on-field referee or VAR saw reason to send Romero off and Spurs were awarded another corner. Ultimately Spurs scored from the final corner, that shouldn’t have been awarded in the first place. Many pundits and ex-professionals have all said that Romero deserved a red card, and that Tottenham should have come away from the game with nothing.
After the game, it was stated that Romero would face no punishment for his on-field actions. However, the last time an incident like this happened in Premier League football it was in a tussle between Robert Huth and Marouane Fellaini at Old Trafford, in which Huth was given a 3-game ban, for grabbing Fellaini by the hair. This has raised questions over the fact that where is the same rule towards Spurs? The game was questionably officiated by Anthony Taylor, a narrative Chelsea fans know all too well. Anthony Taylor has misjudged many issues within Chelsea games, costing them countless games over the past few years.
Not only did the game have goals and outrage, but it also had a touchline battle between Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte. Both managers were shown yellow cards during the game, and after the final whistle, began fighting with each other. Thomas Tuchel had every right to be angry after how his team had suffered despite such a strong performance. After being separated by players and backroom staff respectively, they were both shown red cards (yes Anthony Taylor did have them in his pocket after all!) and they both marched down the tunnel.
On a less angered note, reflecting on the game, there were lots of positives for Chelsea to take away, despite the result. Thomas Tuchel’s tactical approach to the game was sublime, and had Spurs stumped for majority of the game. The Chelsea boss had his team interchanging from a back 5 to a back 4 in certain attacking flows, which was executed perfectly by his players.
Reece James was sensational slotting in as a right sided centre back, further showcasing his sheer quality and versatility. Many fans were doubting Ruben Loftus-Cheek and his ability in the right wing back position. However, he put in a stellar performance, working well with Reece James, and proved that he is an asset to this Chelsea side, and that he deserves his place in the squad. N’Golo Kante looked like he was back to his best, until a hamstring injury troubled him late on in the second half.
Kalidou Koulibaly made his mark in the Premier League with an impressive goal and performance, showing that he needed very little time to adjust to Premier League life. Marc Cucurella impressed on his home debut also and looked right at home in Chelsea Blue. It is worth mentioning that the whole Chelsea team played exceptionally well, and all deserve credit where it is due. Not only this, but all of Chelsea’s new signings that played got themselves goal contributions.
As Chelsea look forward, despite being left deflated in this game against Tottenham, there are plenty of aspects for Thomas Tuchel and his staff to be happy about going into the next fixture against Leeds United.