Both Tottenham and Chelsea lost this weekend and neither game was without controversy. With Spurs needing to win now in midweek to bounce back from a poor performance at Turf Moor on Saturday, they will be up against a resurgent Blues side.
Can Spurs Increase the Pressure on Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea
Fallout from the Weekend
Deja Vu for Tottenham?
In a season when the two teams at the top have been so brilliant, Spurs have in general gone about their business under the radar. However, they have yet again slipped up when in a position to put pressure on the leaders. A win on Saturday would have put Spurs just two points behind Manchester City, on the same games played. It also would have had them within touching distance of Liverpool who were still to face Manchester United on Super Sunday.
But they played poorly and never properly got going. Sean Dyche’s in form Burnley were good value for their win. But for a team meant to be title contenders, a title that Tottenham do deserve to have, more is needed. The grit and determination to win games. They struggle.
It is all well and good beating Bournemouth 5-0 at home, but it doesn’t show for much when Tottenham seemingly crack when there is even a tiny opportunity.
By no means would beating Burnley have given Spurs the title, but it is a foot in the door. They would become just another problem and something for both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp to think about in the run in. As it is, Spurs have firmly shut the door on themselves.
Manchester City are hitting top gear when it matters. Not playing vintage football but winning football none the less. As for Liverpool, they have been so impressive this season and are, after all, leading the way. However, Klopp has answered more critics this season. His team have become dogged in their performances when needed and ground out more unconvincing wins. Although since the new year, they themselves have fallen victim to pressure.
What now for Spurs?
A win tonight would put them firmly in the top four, with very little to worry about. The season is now about consolidation. They have a brilliant chance to progress in the Champions League and make a statement for coming seasons in Europe. Their season is by no means dwindling out, but their title charge has possibly once again, ended before it properly began.
Chelsea and Sarri Change their ways?
It wouldn’t be Chelsea without drama and controversy. As the Carabao Cup final was seemingly heading harmlessly towards a penalty shoot-out, chaos unfolded.
So-called mutiny from Kepa Arrizabalaga has lead to all the talk being about him and Maurizio Sarri, Where does Kepa’s future lie? What next for Maurizio Sarri?
Overall this proved a distraction from a brilliant Blues performance. Chelsea were superb. Sarri showed why he needs to be trusted and given time at Chelsea. He made changes, accommodations, to his starting team, his tactics and his substitutions.
It was like watching Chelsea of old. Rugged. Firm. Hard to beat. Not exactly words that spring to mind with the energetic template of Sarri-ball. But on Sunday, it was equally as impressive. To shut out Europes best attack for 120 minutes with relatively few scares is a testament to Chelsea.
Chelsea players showed belief and trust in Maurizio Sarri, who reverted back to a false nine. The same system which beat City earlier on in the season at Stamford Bridge.
It is this acceptance of superiority that many didn’t think Sarri had. His dreamy ideas of playing ‘his football’ were beginning to become stale and repetitive. But Sarri changed. Something his hasn’t done much and isn’t known for doing. Perhaps he was left with no other option considering the game at the Etihad just two weeks ago. Never the less, the performance was mightily impressive.
What Does This Mean for Chelsea?
It means that the players are capable of playing for their manager and for the badge. It means that Sarri is willing to adapt and change. Furthermore, it shows fans that Sarri can be successful. He does have a winners mentality. To defend for large periods of a game in a cup final might be seen as defensive. Against Manchester City, it’s necessary. Sarri chose to not let the pressure of defending in a cup final get to him. It is this sort of ‘by any means necessary’ that has lead Chelsea to their success.
Chelsea may have lost the game, but penalties are a lottery and there will rarely be a time that Chelsea enter a cup final under so much pressure and such massive underdogs, for a whole host of reasons. In these circumstances, the performance outdid anything most fans could ask for. Desire, togetherness and spirit throughout the team.
Chelsea now need to continue this into tonight’s game. Tottenham will be ready and hungry to prove a point.
Sarri will need his team to perform just as well tonight. Although it is not expected that they will be so defensive, it is the belief and effort of the players that is expected again. Also, Sarri will need to continue his flexibility. One game of good subs and in-game management will not suffice. This is now the standard.
Spurs are expected to field Harry Kane again. He got a full 90 minutes at the weekend and has recovered quickly from injury. Although not fully fit it is likely he will be played given his record in London derbies.
Chelsea, however, have no new injury news. It is not certain that Marcos Alonso will return after his falling out with Sarri and Emerson’s cup final performance. The biggest uncertainty will be the goalkeeper.
Although publicly Sarri and Kepa have made up and the club have acted, Kepa’s disrespect will have had a deeper meaning. Not only to Sarri but also his teammates and especially Willy Cabellero and the close-knit Spanish contingent. Captain Azpilicueta also took a lot of stick for his lack of intervention in the situation.
This game could have detrimental effects if goes south for Chelsea. If their streak of inconsistency continues then undoubtedly the rumours of Sarri’s exit will return. It is a chance for Chelsea to calm the club down and progress.
However, for Tottenham, they need to prove doubters wrong and show they have skin thick enough to react. Another loss here and the same questions will come up again and their ability to keep hold of Pochettino will be tested.
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