LONDON: Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel are top of the Premier League – on alphabetic order – ahead of Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp.
The Blues’ 3-0 victory at Tottenham lifted them level on points goal difference and goals scored with Liverpool on 13 points and emphasised their status at London’s No1 club. This was Chelsea’s sixth victory in seven games against Spurs since 2019.
All Chelsea’s goals came in the second half.
Manager Thomas Tuchel said: “I was not happy with the first 45 minutes. We had some great individual performances but we lacked energy. We needed to be relentless in the 50-50 balls. I had the feeling we wanted to impress by pure skill but a game like this, a derby, is not only about skill but about aggressive play.
“We spoke clearly about it at halftime and the second half was a very good performance and a deserved win. I’m absolutely happy with the performance in the second half. We are competitive but we still have things to improve.”
Before the international break Tottenham were top of the table and Chelsea among the pursuers. Now the tables had turned with Chelsea kicking off in fourth place and Spurs down to seventh and losing form and momentum.
Spurs’ new boss Nuno Espirito Santo had been manager of the month for August and he devised a specific plan to attack Chelsea. Tottenham, instead of relying on their usual counter-attacking game, set strikers Son, Harry Kane and Lo Celso to press up on Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.
Rudiger nearly missed the match. A problem with his mobile phone on arrival at the stadium meant he was unable initially to satisfy the Covid check. The technological problem was resolved just in time.
Chelsea, surprised by Tottenham’s tactics, conceded three early corners but no clear chances. Instead Chelsea created one opening on the counter-attack but Mount misplaced his shot.
Tuchel responded decisively in the tactical chess match after halftime by bringing on N’Golo Kante in place of Mount to strengthen the heart of midfield. This placed more attacking responsibility on the wingbacks which paid off immediately.
First Marcos Alonso forced a fine save from Hugo Lloris in the 47th minute. One minute later and Alonso’s left-wing corner was headed home by Thiago Silva. Minutes later Eric Dier cleared off the goal-line from Alonso.
Another nine minutes and Chelsea were heading for victory as Kante’s 25-metre drive took a deflection off Dier’s heel and flew wide past the left hand of Lloris.
Tuchel sent on Werner in the closing stages in place of Kai Havertz but it was German colleague Rudiger who claimed No3 in stoppage time.