In their last Premier League match before the break, Chelsea FC choked up their second loss of the season, the London derby totally dominated by the Tottenham Hotspur FC. Only the second time ever that a squad fielded by manager Jose Mourinho has ever given up five goals, this result was not what the club wanted to go into January with. As the table now stands, Chelsea are in a dead heat with Manchester City, who won their match and got the three points to tie. If it were not for John Terry’s last goal, they would have lost the lead on goal differential, but the two clubs stand together now atop the standings with exactly identical records. Chelsea is only at the top of the chart by virtue of alphabetical order.
Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked like Mourinho and his men would walk into the transfer window with a respectable lead. All of the pundits had been commenting that Chelsea had the clear advantage, and that the league title was just about theirs already. While one loss has not completely changed that opinion, there do appear to be some cracks showing in the armor.
Conversations which had died down in recent weeks about defender Gary Cahill being a poor fit on the defensive line as it is put together this season, likely to be exposed for his inability to anticipate player movements as well as Terry and the others, have begun to spark up again. Thursday’s match did expose some weaknesses in his play, and fair or not, it has become a topic for discussion once again. Some are speculating that Mourinho’s transfer window attentions might be focused on finding another defender to fit the system better. Cahill is a talented defender, and not everyone believes that it is reasonable to think after all of the successful matches he has had this season that replacing him will improve the club. When a loss of this type occurs, however, someone is always the scapegoat. This time it looks like it is Cahill.
That is, of course, unless you listen to Mourinho, who has once again blamed the officiating. It is a familiar claim, but five goals were not scored because of the referee. In fact, not enough credit has been given to the spectacular play of Tottenham. They looked more like a true unit on the pitch Thursday than they have for some time. Harry Kane, with his two goals and strong play was a hero for the Spurs. Christian Eriksen demonstrated once again what an integral part of the squad he is. He provided opportunities and made a huge impact in coordinating the dissection of the Chelsea defense. He showed signs last season of having far more talent than he had been given credit for, but this season he has gone and left it all out on the pitch. All of the Spurs players gave the home crowd a show, continuing to make White Hart Lane a thorn in the side of Jose Mourinho. Thursday’s derby was a bit of a choke on the part of Chelsea, and a dominating effort on the part of the Tottenham Hotspurs, but the Blues are still on top of the standings and are still the club to beat.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of Calcio Mercato – Flickr License