Keep those mails coming in to email@example.com…
Dear Premier League
…Dear title race
Love Spurs x
Andy D (Spurs…go figure)
Congratulations to Spurs. The irony of them beating Chelsea is that it keeps Arsenals record somewhat with them. I doubt they’ll give a toss though considering the outcome and what it means.
I’d say the biggest winners here though are us the fans. The title race stays open. Bring on the 2nd half of the season!
Tottenham must keep the 3-4-3
Should this be our new permanent formation? I see no drawbacks as last night we exploited all of its strengths; with Rose constantly outside him, Eriksen was able to play far more centrally and really pull the strings.
Knowing Eriksen was getting closer to Kane meant Alli could drift and the back three just couldn’t handle his and Eriksen’s movement. Dembele and Wanyama are perfect in that role, they were immense, the wing-backs can attack with confidence that there are 5 players still protecting the goal and the centre backs were an excellent unit.
Chelsea’s attacks were starting so deep that they were easy to read as they just couldn’t make anything happen in our half (in that regard I think an earlier introduction of Fabregas may have helped). Brilliant performance and long live the 3-4-3, we could utilise it even better than Chelsea do! (You know you own the game when your centre backs are alternating attacks down the wing whilst defending a two-goal lead)
Jerome, THFC, Bristol
Some Chelsea thoughts
Seeing as every cloud has a silver lining, I thought I’d take the opportunity as a slightly bruised Chelsea fan to highlight the reasons to be cheerful following our defeat:
1) There wasn’t too much in that to be fair — and certainly not a pulling down of pants as at Liverpool and Arsenal.
2) We have a manager who wins and loses with his team in equal measure — Conte was on the pitch at the final whistle with his players; Jose would’ve been off down the tunnel on 85 minutes (and the moaning would’ve shortly followed).
3) Whilst we haven’t set a new record for consecutive wins in a season, we’ve equalled what is clearly a difficult record to beat — and have done so beating some of the top teams in the league, as well as some others which those very teams had struggled to themselves topple (West Brom springs to mind, for example).
4) 8 points clear would’ve been lovely but 5, in the context of the Liverpool and Arsenal draws, is nothing to be sniffed at — in addition, we’re close to achieving last year’s total points tally in January.
5) Cup game up next — we might get to see some of the younger squad players, Michy in particular, get some greater game time/ valuable experience.
6) Diego Costa’s tickle on the ear of Eric Dier towards the end of the match raised a little smile (see, he is a sweetie).
Seanus (Hither and Thither), CFC, London
…The last time Tottenham beat Chelsea on the first fixture of the year, Man City drew level on points with Chelsea. This time a defeat to Spurs leaves Chelsea ‘only’ five points clear so no complaints there.
* The last time Chelsea lost a league game, defeat helped Conte find a tactical epiphany. This time I think he has found another – Pedro at left wing back. I look forward to seeing more of that.
* Speaking of epiphanies, Conte needs to quickly arrive at one involving substitutions. I thought he subbed Fabregas too late to influence the game. And losing 2-0, Conte waits till the 85th minutes to bring in another striker.
* And Fabregas? He’s got to be the first choice midfielder now, won’t he? It was clear from the first half that his quick passing and calmness in possession were sorely missed. To compound that, Kante’s passing was really poor tonight. And the corners? Appalling. At a point, I told my brother: “Fabregas needs to come on if only to take the corner kicks!”
* One of the things that always annoy me is a defender standing off an attacker. I get it when you stand off Messi, Hazard et al because you don’t want to be embarrassed. But Eriksen is not a player in that category! He needs that space to play the kind of passes he is capable of. And Matic and co only gone and make the same mistake twice. Close down Eriksen and he won’t produce an outrageous piece of skill; he will only pass backwards.
Franklin, (top of the league), CFC, Lagos
…- Let me begin my mail by congratulating Pochettino and Tottenham. Fully deserved victory, no doubts/grievances. Sometimes you simply need the grace to accept opponent were better than you. Thanks Conte for not being a t*at and being graceful.
– Of the 11 Chelsea players, the goalkeeper gets 5/10. The rest of the lot get 2/10. Gary Cahill perhaps -1/10.
– What annoys me more about Cahill is his cavalier attitude that even if team needs reinforcements it is not his position. Sorry Gary, if my judgement of Conte is right, watch out.
– I repeat a sentiment I’ve been echoing all season. This Chelsea squad is not even the second best in the division. There are at least 2-3 starting elevens better than the Chelsea starting XI.
– Which means our current position of 49 points, five clear of Liverpool makes Antonio Conte the best manager in the division.
– But the Chelsea board is an absolutely funny board. When Jose won back to back titles, we refused to strengthen the squad properly and ended buying Sheva who was not fit for the midfield. When Carlo Ancelotti won the double with a squad again who were not the best in division and far beyond sell on date, we refused to supply with younger proper replacements for the likes of Ballack, Deco, Joe Cole etc. in the summer of 2010. When Jose again did a miracle by pipping City to the title in 2015, we bought Papy Djilobodji (and each time I see him in Sunderland I am at a loss of words for why we bought him and more so how we got a 4 times profit!). What worries me is that the board don’t see that our squad is not good enough and think we’re a great squad, and when inevitably it shows in the future, the coach pays for it. If you’re reading this Roman, please for the love of god please strengthen from a position of strength for once!
– A thought on what Chelsea actually need right now. 1. A central midfield player like Marco Veratti, or Mousa Dembele alongside Kante. 2. A defender who is not Gary Cahill. 3. A defender who can play the ball out. 4. Move Azpilicueta to the right side again? 5. Left Wing Back. Spurs superbly exploited our weakness City failed to – the Alonso-Cahill axis. Fix it first.
– Finally, the measure of a great team is how they respond to adversity. As much as the media narrative was about stopping us, to the point of over selling it (hey it was fun as long as it lasted) I am happy it ended. Now things can get back to normal. How will Conte’s Chelsea react? I don’t think there’ll be a melt down. We will be ok. We may/not win title, but we will finish top 4. Fergie’s teams inevitably lost games like these over a season but their real gem was the way they reacted. After a loss like this, Fergie’s teams will have 2-3 quiet 1-0 or 2-1 wins with no incident/narrative and quietly accumulate the points. Now that the media is off us about the consecutive wins, let the narrative go to Old Trafford.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan
Liverpool could win this thing, y’know
From a Liverpool perspective, the festive period has been a relative success. We’ve gained a point over Chelsea in a period where we had similarly difficult fixtures and for some reason in my head five points seems like a much smaller gap than six. However, to put a negative spin on it, we’re now only three points away from dropping out of the top four.
Although we’re guilty of saying this too much, the next portion of the season will be instrumental in deciding whether Liverpool are title contenders, champions league hopefuls or failures. From now until 18th March we play a member of the top 6 every second game:
After that, the last quarter of the season features a very easy run in (on paper at least). There are barely even any games against teams fighting for their lives, hoping to avoid relegation. It’s mostly teams comfortably in mid table or (hopefully) trying to avoid the Europa league.
If Liverpool can emerge from the next 9 games within touching distance of Chelsea, then the title push is well and truly on. However, it’s equally probable that they could be out of the top four and left hoping for slip ups and trying to speak back into the top 4. Whatever happens, from a Liverpool perspective, it’s going to be an engrossing couple of months.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
Last week, in our weekly seven a side game, a cross was whipped in, ricocheted off three players, hit my standing left foot (my right having been swung at the bouncing ball) and nestled into the bottom corner of the net. I lost my marbles, whipping my shirt over my head and incoherently yelling myself hoarse. Thirty seconds later, the ref blew for half time and we went in 6-1 down.
Scoring a goal against massive rivals, in the dying seconds of a tightly contested first half, and celebrating with the fans merits a yellow card?! I’d be sent off every game.
What a Spurs performance!
Well done to Martin Atkinson
Refs have been getting a lot of stick lately – some right, some wrong.
So when they get it right they deserve some credit. Thought Martin Atkinson was excellent tonight.
…My uncle martin had a good game tonight. Forgot he was there.
Credit where it’s due.
Does goal difference show who will win?
I can’t remember if it was this time last year, or maybe the year before, I wrote to the mailbox regurgitating some wisdom I’d heard elsewhere: After the Christmas fixtures, order the table by goal difference and you’ve pretty much got how the season will finish. It’s never 100% accurate, but it’s usually good enough to separate 1st from the rest, the top 4 from the rest and the relegation teams from the rest.
A couple of weeks ago I scanned the table on that basis and thought “meh, we’ll draw with Chelsea- so the measure will tell me that we’ll edge Utd out for 4th. Disappointing but I’ll take it.” (and that’s quite a bold statement both in terms of not loosing to Chelsea and in terms of thinking we’ll outperform Utd for another 5 months – I’m familiar with the works of Tottenham Hotspur over the last couple of decades..)
Just looked at the table again and by my half-way-through-the-season-heuristic: things just got quite interesting… The points show a clear gap from 1st to 2nd and a clear gap from 6th to 7th; the goal difference shows a relatively small gap amongst the top 5 but a noticeable gap to 6th with City needing to pull their finger out to keep pace.
It’s a prediction tool not a reason to hand out medals, but my prediction is that the end of this season is going to be a belter.
Happy new year all.
Dan (Watford and West Ham both flirting with relegation but not bad enough to go down)
Oh good, a hard-done-to Arsenal fan to finish
Can someone please write to the Premier League and tell them something is wrong with their league table? The bestest teams in the world (Liverpool, Tottenham) with the bestest managers in the world (Klopp, Pochettino) should clearly be at least 1,000 points ahead of the worstest teams in the world (Arsenal) with the worstest, most tactically naïve managers in the world (Wenger).
I mean come on, everyone knows Arsenal’s star player would much rather play for teams that finished 5th, 8th and 10th last season and don’t play in football’s premier competition than stupid old Arsenal who are always rubbish!
The PL season is long, we’re only halfway through (OK 52.6%), the top six is more competitive than ever, every top 6 team has had ups and downs this season and so far Chelsea are on top after a fantastic run. If only people could analyse football sensibly this season would really be quite enjoyable (for fans of top six clubs anyway).
Simon Cochrane (sigh)