In the showdown to an exciting Premier League gameweek, Chelsea and Tottenham locked horns at the Stamford Bridge, and first time in this decade, Tottenham managed to get three points from this ground.
Quite naturally, this defeat raises a lot of questions about Chelsea’s current performances. The Blues have failed to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League, and got knocked out of the EFL Cup in the semifinal. They are still in contention for the FA Cup, but other than that, the season performance seems to be far from the best. It goes without saying that this loss against Tottenham will be a serious blow to their league run as well. Here, let us go through a few serious points that the last match brought into light.
(1) Top four finish is a distant dream:
After 31 matches, Manchester City (84 points) are almost certain to clinch the Premier League title this season. Manchester United (68 points), Liverpool (66 points, one match extra) and Tottenham (64 points) sit on the next three spots at the moment, while Chelsea are fifth with 56 points from as many games. Last match could have helped the Blues reduce the gap to 2 points, but they failed in that task. They still have a Liverpool match to go, while both United and Tottenham will have to play against City in coming weeks. Other than that, these top teams should not find it hard to secure full points from other games. Naturally, finishing in the top four is going to be very difficult for Antonio Conte’s men.
(2) Scoring boots missing for Eden Hazard:
In the beginning of the season, a lot of hope were pinned on Hazard and Alvaro Morata. But, both have disappointed the fans. After an injury-marred first half, Hazard started to slowly find his form, but that streak had come to an end. In the last four matches, he has only recorded one assist. The boss has sometimes played him in false nine, and a lot of responsibilities were on the Belgian. Much to the dismay of all supporters, Hazard has not been at his best.
It’s even more worrying that the Real Madrid target has netted only once and assisted twice in nine league games against the top six Premier League teams. He was thought to be a big-match player, but he has definitely failed to live up to the expectations till now. This was also evident in the Tottenham game, and that was possibly one of the main reasons behind Chelsea’s emphatic loss.
(3) Andreas Christensen’s mistakes:
The Danish defender has found his way into the starting eleven of Chelsea after showing strong characters. Overall, his performance has been good and no one would question his inclusion in the lineup. However, it cannot be denied that Christensen is responsible for several turning points in recent times. In the first leg Champions League tie against Barcelona, the 21 year old committed a blunder and that led to Lionel Messi’s equalizer. Eventually, Chelsea lost the two-legged tie and got knocked out of the competition.
Against Tottenham too, Christensen was responsible for two goals. First, he failed to track back and cover Dele Alli who scored a brilliant goal to give Spurs the lead. And then, it was his failure to clear the ball which helped Alli notch his brace in the second half. The youngster has been good performer for this whole time, but he needs to understand that these mistakes have been costing his team heavily, and he should be more careful and dedicated on the pitch.
(4) N’Golo Kante – only silver lining:
The former Leicester City player is probably the single player who has never done anything to question his performance or credibility in the midfield. He was one of the most influential players in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-17 season, and he has been brilliant in this season as well. Always bossing the midfield, Kante provides enough defensive support to the back three. And he also goes forward on occasions. He even scored a few important goals in the last two campaigns for Chelsea.
During last Sunday’s Tottenham match, Kante was possibly the sole bright spot in an otherwise dour display of Blues players. His defensive numbers (7 important tackles, 5 crucial interceptions) were better than other defenders and he sent a couple of key passes to the forwards as well.
Antonio Conte will be lucky if other players also step up and help Kante to the best of their abilities. Should that happen in the last few matches, perhaps Chelsea will be able to lift the FA Cup and miraculously secure a top four finish at the end of the season.