Chelsea 2 Spurs 1: Ground Lost in Top Four Race
Just as we come into touching distance of the Champions League places, we run into Chelsea. It happened in the last fixture before Christmas and, as our patched up squad reached Stamford Bridge on Saturday, it happened again.
It was a result we’d feared and only a late consolation from Erik Lamela gave the scoreline any respectability. We’ve often said that we weren’t going to set up as another moaning Spurs site so let’s see if we can take any positives from this one.
Chelsea’s opening goal on 15 minutes needed a fair slice of luck and for a moment, it looked to be going our way. Hugo Lloris saved Olivier Giroud’s initial shot and Ross Barkley’s follow up hit the post and could have gone anywhere. Unfortunately, it went back into the path of Giroud whose low drive put the hosts in front.
The second, on 47 minutes, was more straightforward as Marcos Alonso arrived unchallenged on the right to fire past Lloris. Chelsea then hit the bar and we only came into the highlights package when Giovani Lo Celso’s challenge on Azpilicueta went unchallenged.
With a minute to go, Lamela pulled one back via Antonio Rudiger but we were never really in it and were never going to get an undeserved point from that position.
Speaking to the club’s official website after the game, manager Jose Mourinho said:
The players gave everything for the shirt, for the Club, for the fans. I cannot be critical. We know that if the opponent scores before us, it’s difficult for us.
The opponent knows that if they press high, we cannot go long because we don’t have a target, a player to connect the game and when they are winning and drop the block, it’s difficult for us to get through.
Even so, the boys played with great pride and tried everything until the last second, but the result is a defeat. As a coach, there are defeats and defeats. The boys gave everything. I can’t complain.
So what are the positives that we talked about at the start of this article? Firstly, we scored and with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min possibly ruled out until the end of the season, we were questioning where the next goal was coming from.
Secondly, the final Champions League slot could now go to the fifth placed side. It’s not how you’d want to qualify but after finishing fourth and losing out in 2012, we’re owed one.
As for our current situation, the defeat left us in fifth place ahead of the remaining weekend’s fixtures and as Chelsea stretched their lead to four points, we’re starting to look back at the teams below us.
Next up is Sunday’s home game with Wolves who are one of those sides now looking at a fifth placed finish and a possible route into the Champions League. After that, we’re back in FA Cup action with our home tie against Norwich City on Wednesday March 4th.
It is, as Jose says, just a defeat and there’s plenty still to play for but does this diminished and out of form squad have anything left for one last push at the end of a long and difficult campaign?