In what seems certain to be the wildest match this year, Chelsea defeated a 9-man Tottenham 4-1 to hand them their first loss of the season. Nicolas Jackson scored a hat-trick to help his side to the win, extending his goal tally to 5 goals this season.
Here are the talking points from the heated London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
VAR fuels the drama
After three VAR checks in the first 30 minutes, the match ended with nine checks, pushing the match to 112 minutes overall. The officials took extra care after the controversial Luis Diaz goal decision at the Spurs ground earlier, and even though they took their time, the decisions were right.
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou lamented the frequent stoppages in play after the game, disrupting the rhythm. But, it made the right calls in a high stakes derby.
First defeat for Spurs
Postecoglou’s Spurs have been overcome for the first time this season, and now their true test begins. They will have to look past the loss if they are to emerge as bonafide title contenders, and how they respond to their first defeat will determine whether they can battle Manchester City for the title or not.
Chelsea still subpar
The opening 15 minutes saw Chelsea completely and utterly outplayed by their rivals. Kulusevski might have been lucky to earn his deflected opening goal. But shortly after, some excellent and smooth play from Tottenham allowed Son to score a second early in the game.
VAR correctly ruled it out for offside, but the threat had already been established. Eric Dier then scored a disallowed goal after Chelsea went 2-1 up, before Rodrigo Bentancur wasted a brilliant opportunity in front of goal to get them back in the game at the death.
Chelsea’s attack didn’t feel very convincing at all, even against 9 men. According to the xG stats: Spurs (1.13) 1-4 (4.89) Chelsea, the Blues performed at par, but had a number of great opportunities to add to their lead which were denied by a heroic Guglielmo Vicario.
Moreover, Nicolas Jackson underperformed his xG of 3.37 in spite of scoring hat-trick, which further substantiates how much more they should have won by.
Ange stays true to the plan
In spite of being two men down, Ange Postecoglou played with a dangerously high line of defence. It was clear that the home manager wanted his side to win, instead of settling for a draw. But, with only Son as the natural attacker, it was always going to be an uphill task to break on the counter and score.
As a result, Chelsea attackers were frequently flagged offside, while a total of five goals were ruled out in the game on both ends. But, they eventually found their way past the defence to score.
The heroic effort from all the Tottenham players goes to show exactly how drastically things have changed this season, and how much fight and desire each player in white now has.
Injuries start for Tottenham
Micky van de Ven and James Maddison were both substituted before half time, and the question marks will now be raised about how the team deals with the loss of two key players. The high-intensity style of play was always going to result in a few injuries over the season, and now, they have started popping up.
It will be interesting to see how Postecoglou deals with the absence of several key players, whilst leading a title challenge with his highly motivated squad.