Here are five things we spotted in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw vs Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
Richarlison’s return from suspension meant that Antonio Conte was always going to have a big decision to make in terms of his Tottenham squad at Chelsea. With Japhet Tanganga taking the injured Clement Lenglet’s place, new signing Djed Spence was the unlucky man to miss out as the Brazilian was added to the matchday 20.
Questions of course will be raised by fans about Spence’s absence given his summer move from Middlesbrough but his time will come. While the decision did highlight his place in the pecking order as things stand, it was much more important for the boss to have options to choose from across the pitch in west London.
Set piece woes
Tottenham will hopefully see a big improvement with their set pieces this campaign following the appointment of specialist Gianni Vio at the start of July. Working with a number of Italian clubs and also with Brentford and Leeds United in the past, the 69-year-old played a major role in Italy’s success at Euro 2020 after taking his place on Roberto Mancini’s staff.
Having a good period of time to work with the Spurs team, three minutes into the contest at Stamford Bridge there appeared to be a routine that had come straight off the training ground. Winning a free-kick on the right flank, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski lined up alongside each other as if they were going to swing the ball in with their left foot .
Usually having two options there with a right-footer and a left-footer over the ball, it was rather bizarre to see both practically next to each other, especially as Son’s weaker foot is his left. In the end it was the South Korean who took the free-kick, with his delivery sailing over the crossbar.
It just didn’t make sense at all due to Kulusevski’s incredible quality with his left. What was also extremely frustrating to see from a set piece was Kalidou Koulibaly completed unmarked to volley home Marc Cucurella’s corner in style.
While it was an excellent strike from the player to net his first Chelsea goal, it was a shocking one to concede from a Spurs perspective as they opted for zonal marking. Tottenham’s struggles from set pieces just go on and on.
Tuchel’s tactic to trouble Conte
Apart from a decent opening ten minutes from Spurs, Chelsea were totally dominant in the first half at Stamford Bridge and the Lilywhites were perhaps lucky to only be one goal behind. Conte’s men just couldn’t get going at all, with the hosts causing them major problems across the pitch with their intense pressing and slick play.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho were pulling the strings in midfield and the Blues burst through the middle at ease time and time again. Needing a bit of magic from Son and the front three to try and spark a bit of magic in the final third. Spurs’ No.7 just couldn’t get going at all as Reece James marked him out of the game.
The England international was constantly on him and didn’t give him time to breathe at all. The only time the South Korean burst beyond him was after picking up a loose ball from a Chelsea corner, only for James to haul him down by the halfway line to pick up a yellow card for a tactical foul.
That touchline bust-up
Conte was always going to make an early change in the second half going on their first-half performance in SW6. Introducing Richarlison for his Tottenham debut in place of Ryan Sessegnon, the boss opted for a rather bold 4-2-4 formation.
Spurs were much better after the break and duly restored parity when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg found the bottom corner from distance after Son and Kulusevski had worked hard to win the ball back. Rather than the TV cameras focusing on the Dane and his teammates celebrating, they quickly panned over to the touchline as both benches were involved in a melee.
Delighted to be level again after their first-half woes, Conte celebrated passionately and headed in the direction of the Chelsea bench, which resulted in Thomas Tuchel confronting him and the pair squaring up. Coaching staff from both benches quickly rushed over to pull them apart, with Eric Dier running to the bench to try and calm things down rather than going off to celebrate with his teammates.
A few seconds earlier Tuchel and his Chelsea team were not impressed at all after Rodrigo Bentancur had appeared to foul Kai Havertz but it was not given by referee Anthony Taylor. Having seen his side not win a foul and then concede a goal, it was no surprise to see him react so angrily.
He did rub it in the Italian’s face in the 77th minute, though, as he sprinted past the Spurs bench and ran down the touchline to celebrate after James had put them back in front. Conte was to have the last laugh, however, as Harry Kane nodded home deep into stoppage time.
The full-time whistle
That wasn’t the end of the drama at Stamford Bridge as it all kicked off at the final whistle. With the TV camera firmly fixed on both managers as they went to shake hands, things soon got out of control and it culminated in both receiving red cards
Both benches were soon on the pitch and those who were playing were quickly over to come and split things up as it all got rather heated again. It’s going to be fun when the sides meet again at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 25, 2023.