Chelsea were able to take advantage of a weakened Tottenham side, scoring both goals in the first half and eventually winning by 2-0. The defeat led Conte to making some changes for their trip to Manchester City on Sunday
Tottenham’s latest loss vs. Chelsea shows how much help Conte needs to fix things. The Spurs lost 4-0 at the hands of Chelsea, which means that they are now without a win in their last 10 Premier League matches.
LONDON, United Kingdom — Losing to Chelsea for the third time this month won’t help Antonio Conte’s objective of removing Tottenham’s inferiority mentality, but it could just improve his case for acting in the January transfer window’s final week. Spurs were trounced 2-0 on Sunday, extending their dreadful record at Stamford Bridge to just one victory in 37 trips across all competitions, after losses in both legs of their Carabao Cup quarterfinal.
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel gave his struggling players two days off earlier this week in the hopes of reigniting their performances, but it turned out that all they needed was a game against Tottenham. (It was Chelsea’s 33rd Premier League win against Tottenham, the most of any side in the competition’s history.) Meanwhile, after a game in which he fielded a 4-4-2 formation with Steven Bergwijn and Harry Kane up front, Son Heung-Min out due to injury, and Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso omitted, the latter as he seeks a move away from the club, Conte was left to speak once more about the gap between these two sides.
“The club is fully aware of my thoughts and the amount of time we need to bridge this deficit,” he stated. “To narrow the gap, more than one transfer market is necessary. This gap has widened dramatically in recent years, making it difficult to identify a solution in a timely manner.”
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But the task begins right now. The sight of full-backs Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon playing as traditional wingers in midfield may indicate the urgency with which Spurs must change their lineup in the next week. Tottenham are still interested in signing Wolves’ Adama Traore, as well as a more difficult deal for AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, among other alternatives.
It’ll be a hectic few days ahead, but Sunday’s loss served as a stark reminder of what failure may look like. Either Traore or Kessie would have brought a new dimension to a squad that at least competed better than on their last visit, but never looked like regaining control after Hakim Ziyech opened the score with a spectacular curling 47th-minute shot. The Moroccan did not celebrate his goal against Brighton five days earlier, but he was surrounded by teammates who wanted to partake in a moment of pure elegance that changed the game irreversibly in the home side’s favor.
Conte was disappointed by Tottenham’s recent defeat to Chelsea, and it’s unclear if he’ll receive the reinforcements he needs to keep his team in contention for a top-four finish. Getty Images/Robin Jones
Aside from the break, a tactical switch to a 4-1-4-1 shape looked to assist Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi threaten more, even though Romelu Lukaku’s goal-scoring efficiency continued to elude him.
Tuchel said, “We believed it may provide us some possibilities to escape the strong pressing with the game in the opponent’s half and have a little more width without having wing-backs.” “Because he was so dependable, it was one of his [Ziyech’s] greatest matches today. To be honest, being on the wing, with the wide position on the right, may also be his finest position. When we play our 3-4-3, the position does not generally exist in that fashion, and it is more of a wing-back. It was beneficial since it allowed him to take chances.”
Spurs had right to be angry; Kane had the ball in the goal just before the break, but a shove in Thiago Silva’s back allowed him more room to finish, and despite the England captain’s protests, the VAR did not interfere when referee Paul Tierney ruled it out. Conte was furious.
“I was extremely explicit with the referee when he denied a goal,” he stated. “I believe it is essential to inform the referee in a courteous manner that seeing this sort of goal denied was extraordinary.”
Silva was a master at maximizing contact, and he struck again on 55 minutes when he headed in Mason Mount’s free-kick. Tottenham’s recent tendency of leaking goals from set-pieces will enrage Conte even more; this season, they’ve conceded six goals from dead-ball scenarios in the Premier League. No team has ever endured as much as they have.
Conte’s first league loss came on Sunday, and given how far Spurs have fallen behind in the second half of the season, they still have two games in hand on fourth-placed Manchester United and a stunning four games to make up on their opponents this weekend. They’re just two points behind United, but Conte needs the club to back him up with decisive transfer action in the next eight days if he wants to make the most of those additional games. Fabio Paratici, the managing director of football, was at Stamford Bridge before kick-off — on his phone, of course — to see firsthand the latest chapter in a rivalry that has seen one club dominate for so long.
Chelsea maintains a comfortable lead over the top three teams and the chasing pack behind them, ahead of a tempting post-Club World Cup run of league games that includes matches against Crystal Palace, Burley, Newcastle, Norwich, and Brentford. Regrettably, they are unlikely to play Spurs again this season.
“Can we play you every week?” sang the ecstatic home crowd. Conte need assistance in order to alter the music.
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