Tottenham vs Chelsea: Five things we learned as Thomas Tuchel’s inspired tactical switch secures win

Tottenham 0-3 Chelsea: Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger were all on the scoresheet as the visitors went top of the Premier League table

Dylan Terry
Sunday 19 September 2021 18:42
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<p>Spurs were well beaten by Chelsea on Sunday evening</p>

Spurs were well beaten by Chelsea on Sunday evening

Chelsea maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a convincing 3-0 win over London rivals Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Manager Thomas Tuchel made a tactical switch at half-time by bringing Mason Mount off for N’Golo Kante, shifting the momentum of the game towards the visitors.

Thiago Silva opened the scoring four minutes into the second half with a powerful header from a corner.

And Kante doubled Chelsea’s advantage before the hour mark, firing his effort off the helpless Eric Dier and past Hugo Lloris. Antonio Rudiger then made it three in added time with a smart finish from inside the penalty area.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Tuchel masterstroke the key to victory

Leaving Kante on the bench? Taking off Mount at half-time? These are things no ‘normal’ manager would think to do. But Tuchel is clearly operating on a higher floor than the rest of us mere mortals. The Chelsea boss hooked Mount at the break and brought Kante in and the whole game changed.

Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic completely dominated the game in the second half. And Kante capped the switch off with a rare goal of his own.

Tuchel seems to have a knack of making in-game tactical changes that have a noticeable impact on the outcome of the match. Make no mistake, he is up there with Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola as one of the great minds of modern football.

Ndombele a welcome addition to the Spurs midfield

Tanguy Ndombele wanted to leave Tottenham in the summer but failed in his attempt to find a new club. Less than one month later he returned in the Europa Conference League on Thursday in what was his first start since April.

His performance impressed Nuno so he was instantly recalled to their Premier League squad for this game.

The trio of Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks looked bereft of creativity and vigour in their 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace. Ndombele’s ball carrying ability and technical skill were much-needed traits brought back into the team against Chelsea.

Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and super sub N’Golo Kante are a superb midfield trio, but Ndombele stuck to his task throughout the first half, showing why he is the club’s record transfer. It was only when Tuchel brought Kante on that the game changed as Spurs began to be overrun.

Nuno produces throwback to Pochettino days with high press, but they couldn’t sustain it

Over the last two years, Spurs fans have been subjected to negative, park-the-bus type football that has failed to bring success. Aside from the results, Tottenham supporters were pleased to see the back of Jose Mourinho because of the style of play they were being subjected to.

In the first few games of this season, Nuno looked to have been singing from the same defensive hymn sheet as the man that coached him at Porto. But in the first half on Sunday afternoon it was a very different Spurs altogether.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min pressed high from the first kick, while Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso smothered the Chelsea midfield, stopping the distribution into Mount, Kai Havertz and Romelu Lukaku. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was Mauricio Pochettino’s high-energy Tottenham team of a few years ago. Refreshingly positive to see.

However, this Spurs team showed why they are not Poch’s Spurs after the break as the wheels fell off and they were ruthlessly swatted aside by the visitors. They simply do not possess the shape or quality to maintain what Pochettino’s side could repeatedly offer up.

It’s a damning indictment of where Tottenham are at and how far they have to go to compete with the very top teams once more.

Battle at the Bridge: The second coming

Five years ago Chelsea ended Spurs’ title ambitions by fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stamford Bridge and hand Leicester the trophy.

But the match will also be remembered for Tottenham reverting to dirty behaviour in the latter stages as the victory went away from them. They racked up 20 fouls, with Chelsea contributing a further nine themselves.

This wasn’t quite as much of a brawl, but there were definitely shades of what has become known as the ‘Battle of the Bridge’. No red cards, but 19 fouls proves it was a very feisty affair indeed.

Chelsea got a bit of revenge for that night in 2016, commiting 15 fouls on the Spurs players.

Alli remains lost in search to regain form

Dele Alli has been given a second chance at Spurs following the arrival of Nuno in the summer. The Portuguese manager has shown he wants to help the England man get back to where he was a few years ago.

But aside from tucking away a penalty against Wolves, the 25-year-old has failed to repay the faith Nuno has put in him.

He was poor going forward today, often acting as a roadblock to goal. He was also at fault for Silva’s opener as he refused to jump with the man he was ‘marking’ and was punished.

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