The starting XI fans wanted to see
Tottenham fans got exactly what they wanted when Nuno Espirito Santo’s team was announced one hour ahead of the game.
Having come in for plenty of criticism last Saturday for his defensive setup away at Crystal Palace, the Spurs boss certainly decided to go for it against Chelsea with a rather attacking XI.
Not only naming Cristian Romero in his starting backline for the first time in a Premier League game, the 47-year-old then went and selected Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli in his midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
That unfortunately meant Oliver Skipp missed out as a result despite making such after a strong start to the campaign.
The return of Son Heung-min from injury then topped off the attacking selection after missing the past two games against Palace and Rennes.
Spurs fans really couldn’t have any grumbles in the first half, but the second 45 minutes was a different story altogether.
Lucas and Bergwijn concern
Already without a number of players heading into Thursday’s Europa Conference League game against Rennes, things were to go from bad to worse for the Lilywhites out in France.
Steven Bergwijn, who had only just returned from an injury issue sustained over the course of the international break, had to be substituted after 30 minutes following a kick to the back of his leg.
Ten minutes after half-time fellow winger Lucas Moura was then withdrawn following a heavy challenge that left him unable to carry on.
Given what had happened to his two attackers, it was no surprise to see Espirito Santo take Harry Kane off rather swiftly rather than taking any chances with him.
The injuries sustained in Rennes unfortunately kept both Lucas and Bergwijn out of the squad to face Chelsea, with the head coach having to opt for a rather defensive bench as Bryan Gil and Dane Scarlett were his only two attacking options to call on.
All will be hoping that the injuries to the duo aren’t too serious as Spurs have some important games coming up over the next few weeks and they will need both.
Kane’s unusual position
Espirito Santo has demonstrated in his first few games as Tottenham boss that 4-3-3 appears to be his favoured formation.
That was again the case in the Chelsea game as Giovani Lo Celso joined Son and Kane in his front three.
Whereas previously Son would operate from the wide areas for Spurs and cause a host of issues for their opponents, this time he started in the middle of the three.
That in turn meant that Kane, who has always lined up through the middle, rather unusually started from the left side, with the England captain just having no chances on goal despite Spurs playing well.
It wasn’t until the hour mark when Espirito Santo moved Kane back centrally and a few minutes later it saw Kepa Arrizabalaga tested for the first time as he denied the experienced frontman from range.
Tottenham fans were not impressed at all last weekend as the Lilywhites only mustered two shots on goal across the 90 minutes at Selhurst Park.
Playing it safe rather than taking any chances with his XI, that couldn’t be said about Espirito Santo against Chelsea.
His rather attacking XI took the game to Chelsea and caused Thomas Tuchel’s men plenty of problems at times in north London as they battled well in the middle of the pitch and looked to push forward, with the Blues bringing N’Golo Kante on at the break as a result of Tottenham’s domination.
However, that substitution turned the game in the Blues’ favour as they netted a quickfire double 12 minutes after the restart, before Antonio Rudiger added a third just before the final whistle.
It is now two weeks in a row that Spurs have capitulated in the second half, although the heavy defeat at Palace was not helped one bit by Japhet Tanganga’s sending off.
It is something that needs to change at Tottenham and fast.
No gamechanger on the bench
The introduction of Kante at half-time may have been viewed as a defensive change for Chelsea to help shore up their midfield but it proved to be a gamechanger from Tuchel.
The dynamic of the game changed right away as Chelsea took control from the whistle at the start of the second half and they duly scored a few minutes later through Thiago Silva.
Boasting a whole host of options on the bench such as Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Spurs’ options were rather limited with no Bergwijn or Lucas in the matchday squad through injury.
Gil and Scarlett were the team’s only attacking options available to Espirito Santo, but it was always going to be a huge ask for the young duo to come on and change things given their lack of experience in the top flight.
As important as it is to have a strong starting XI, Chelsea’s win at Spurs also highlighted that it’s imperative to also have a bench with plenty of options to choose from.
Spurs just didn’t have that and it proved costly.
Source by Football London