White Hart Lane on Saturday made for uncomfortable viewing for any Spurs fan. Denied our best players, handicapped by individual mistakes and lacking the slices of luck that some teams can call on at will, our position within the Premier League became apparent.
This realisation didn’t occur when Chelsea and Daniel Sturridge celebrated their fourth goal, but 45 minutes before kick-off. Stood alone in the Paxton watching the Spurs keepers going through their warm up routine, the news that Mousa Dembele and Gareth Bale were missing set the alarm bells ringing.
We boast a wonderful starting XI when all our players are uninjured or not attending births, but when fate or circumstance come swooping in, we are left exposed.
Any team attempting to play a game shorn of six first team players would struggle, but when you have to play the league leaders and free spending Chelsea, your weaknesses are magnified. I still believe, however, that measures could have been taken to ensure we didn’t concede four goals and capitulate again to a team the whole nation despises, no matter how they protest differently.
Andre Villas-Boas is a manager in whom I have a great respect and faith, but he must learn that if the shoe doesn’t fit, there is no point in pretending it does. His preferred formation relies on width and pace, and without Bale he was missing his most effective outlet. AVB either had to deploy Andros Townsend in the Welshman’s place or change tactics, because Clint Dempsey and Glyfi Sigurdsson are and never will be left-wingers.
However, AVB is just working with the tools he has been given. Both Dempsey and Sigurdsson seem to have been signings made on his behalf not his bequest. Our lack of strength in depth was alarming and was clearly demonstrated by the two benches both teams named.
Spurs meanwhile don’t have the resources that Chelsea can delve into, should our Plan A fail then Plan B isn’t strong enough to match the oil rich south Londoners
Our opponents had two young exciting fullbacks, a winger who kept Wigan in the Premier League last season, an England starting central midfielder and a capped striker, alongside a La Maisa graduate. Had Chelsea needed to change their style of play at any point they could have.
Spurs meanwhile don’t have the resources that Chelsea can delve into, should our Plan A fail then Plan B isn’t strong enough to match the oil rich south Londoners. This defeat was made even harder to bear by the knowledge that every Chelsea player who inflicted damage upon us, could have, if circumstances had allowed, been ours.
Gary Cahill, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata were all at some point, heavily linked with coming to White Hart Lane, but finances and/or and inability to move swiftly in the market meant they all ended up plying their trade south of the river.
Oscar, the new number 10 for Brazil, arrived at Chelsea from Internacional in his home country, a club with whom we have a partnership. This understanding allows us to have first option on their talent, as long as we match the price of the highest bidder. Unfortunately for Spurs, we were unable or unwilling to match what Chelsea offered.
Tales of near misses and failed transfer deals are ones which we as Spurs fans have come to accept, but when your failings arrive at your own home and destroy your unbeaten run, it hurts. When Cahill swung his boot at a poor clearance by William Gallas, and fired the ball through Brad Friedel three of Tottenham’s errors were highlighted within seconds. A centre back who could have been playing for us, punishing one who shouldn’t, making a mug of a keeper who isn’t better than one Spurs have sat on the bench.
In the grand scheme of the Premier League a defeat to Chelsea is not a disaster. They have taken maximum points away at Woolwich, and will probably do the same in Manchester and on Merseyside. We are too early into the AVB transition to contemplate a title challenge; instead we must refocus on 4th or possibly 3rd place.
The next two Premier League games are against Southampton and Wigan, two teams we must beat. In these games our talent should over power them, unfortunately we still have some way to go before we can do the same against Chelsea and the Russian ruble.
We will meet them at Stamford Bridge in 2013 when hopefully Daniel Levy will have taken the steps to correct this summer’s errors, and our two veterans will be watching from the comfort of the bench/stand/their front room.