One of many important motivating elements behind Chelsea‘s £220 million summer season spending spree was the dearth of a killer intuition throughout Frank Lampard’s maiden season in cost. But Sunday’s 0-0 draw in opposition to Tottenham now stands alongside a goalless draw at Manchester United and a 2-0 residence defeat in opposition to Liverpool in a failure to attain in opposition to the normal ‘Massive Six’ within the Premier League this time period.
None of these outcomes is a catastrophe in isolation. The Liverpool defeat got here within the second recreation of the season, too early for Lampard to fine-tune his beginning line-up. Though Manchester United fluctuates between the elegant and the ridiculous every week, some extent at Previous Trafford is a reputable outcome.
And the restrict of Spurs’ aspirations right here might be finest summed up by the very fact the guests did not have a shot of any description within the second half, the primary time that has occurred since December 2018 in opposition to Wolves.
However elevated expectations include such an enormous monetary funding and for all of the attacking expertise on show, Chelsea mustered simply three photographs on the right track and just one that basically examined Hugo Lloris, a long-range effort from Mason Mount as Chelsea more and more struggled to play by Tottenham’s inflexible defence. In spite of everything, Chelsea had two days additional to arrange for this recreation and had been ready to make use of all six summer season signings at one stage or one other right here, along with Christian Pulisic making his first look since Oct. 28 following persistent hamstring issues.
Pulisic got here on 16 minutes from time, Kai Havertz adopted 9 minutes later and Olivier Giroud changed Tammy Abraham in between. All of the whereas, Lampard endured with a 4-3-3 form that was regularly nullified by Spurs, who palpably diminished in ambition because the match wore on.
Mourinho might be seen telling his gamers to sluggish the sport down throughout the second half as his substitutions added additional conservatism to their method. Case and level, Gareth Bale, who many thought was acquired on mortgage from Actual Madrid to win matches of this magnitude, remained an unused substitute.
His borderline farcical post-match assertion that “we got here right here to win” was merely a continuation of the obstructive mischief that had gone earlier than, as was the declare Spurs should not within the title race. Requested to recall a earlier metaphor he utilized in 2014 when in control of Chelsea involving what sort of horse his workforce was compared to the thoroughbreds difficult for the Premier League, Mourinho mentioned: “We’re not even within the Chelsea want extra from summer season signings Werner, Havertz and Ziyech to be real contenders race, so we’re not a horse. We’re a pony.”
No less than Chelsea had their designated match-winners on the pitch. Spurs deserve credit score for implementing Mourinho’s tactical plan so emphatically, displaying a resolve not often related to Tottenham in securing a draw which takes them again to the highest of the desk. However though Spurs purchased shrewdly this summer season with Mourinho additionally extracting apparent enchancment in a number of people —perhaps most pertinently Tanguy Ndombele, who was wonderful within the first half right here — there isn’t any affordable expectation simply but on Tottenham to win the title.
Liverpool and Manchester Metropolis rightly stay favourites, however Chelsea’s expenditure mixed with their positional proximity final season places Lampard below extra fast stress to ship. They actually should produce extra of a purpose risk in these greater video games. Hakim Ziyech tried his luck from lengthy vary within the second minute with a shot straight at Lloris however the Spurs goalkeeper was not examined once more till Mount pressured him into a wonderful save 9 minutes from time.
Chelsea may nonetheless have gained it. Joe Rodon, making his full Premier League debut with Toby Alderweireld absent by damage, began and ended with a shaky second, aiming a weak header again to Lloris in stoppage time that fell kindly for Giroud. The 34-year-old, couldn’t take benefit, solely lifting a tame shot straight at his fellow Frenchman.
Havertz and Pulisic didn’t actually have sufficient time to have an effect on the sport with each struggling for match health, the previous just lately ending his interval of self-isolation after testing constructive for COVID-19. However Werner and Ziyech did.
The previous RB Leipzig man thought he’d opened the scoring on 11 minutes, gathering Mount’s cross in area on the left, slicing in on his proper foot and curling an excellent shot in off the submit solely to be appropriately flagged offside. He struggled to make inroads after that, registering the bottom cross completion charge of any Chelsea starter except for Abraham.
Maybe Lampard was conscious of Mourinho’s default setting, making certain his gamers didn’t over-commit for worry of being caught on the counter-attack, one thing which appeared potential early on when Spurs threatened with Steven Bergwijn and Serge Aurier going shut.
Mourinho actually thought so. “The opponent defensively was excellent,” mentioned the Spurs boss.
“They did not take dangers. They had been strong, they did not undertaking many gamers in assault like they usually do and likewise as a result of we have now to perform a little bit higher.”
Besides, in these tight moments, particular person brilliance is required. That is why Chelsea paid the cash.
“It’s troublesome to create in opposition to Tottenham after they defend within the low-medium block,” Lampard mentioned.
“The entire workforce is central, you must go round them, you must try to make crosses or tackle photographs and it isn’t straightforward whereas ensuring you do not permit counter-attacking in transition. So, I assumed that a part of our recreation was nice, I assumed we did sufficient to win the sport with out getting that final little bit that will win it for us.
“Generally you depend on a little bit of magic, one thing to drop for you when you’ve that a lot dominance and it did not fairly come.”
These stay formative days in a frenetic season with many large checks to come back. However extra is definitely required from Chelsea’s expensively assembled ahead line if they’re to bridge the hole to the highest.