The visit of last years champions to our temporary home has come early in the season. Dan Pearce looks into the repercussions the result of this game could have on the rest of our season.
Many games can be over-hyped and overstated in the premier league; “6 pointers” and “title deciders” adding extra pressure to players and managers, whilst gaining additional media attention and sparking debate on social media. These games often come at the “business end” of the season, as fans of some teams can continue to dream of titles, whilst others wake up in a cold sweat at the fear of being relegated to the Championship.
Tottenham v Chelsea arrives at week 2 in the new Premier league season, and some may feel that although a London derby, this fixture has come too early to have any real meaning or relevance to the Premier league season as a whole. However this game could not come at a more important time for Spurs and could determine our whole 2017/2018 league campaign.
Many psychological factors will be playing on the minds of the Tottenham Manager, his players and of course the fans. Chelsea beat us to the Premier league title last season, many Spurs fans would argue they were never really competing with Chelsea and certainly didn’t let anything slip last season, however the fact remains we were closest to the eventual Champions in terms of quality as well as points. The FA Cup semi-final will still bring a wince to the Spurs fans who watched their team dominate for large periods, only for Chelsea to display some superior finishing and quality in the final third. Chelsea have certainly had a psychological edge over Spurs for some time now winning 26 of their Premier League meetings, with Spurs notching just 5 wins and the list of incidents that seem to have heightened the ill feeling between both sets of clubs is endless; Social media statements from players like Fabregas and Eden Hazard, last year’s semi-final, the transfer of Willian where he was reported to have a medical at Spurs before crossing over to Chelsea at the last minute, and the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’. You have to wonder if the Spurs players are affected by games of this magnitude, coming up against the same players that seem to pip them to the post at every opportunity, the frustration and passion is surely bubbling away somewhere. A core of English players and others like Lloris, Eriksen and Vertonghen that have been at the club for years will know how much beating Chelsea means to the fans and hopefully to them as players, winning this game might just give them that edge over the Chelsea players that could be part of one of six teams competing for the title this season.
This game could not come at a more important time for Spurs and could determine our whole 2017/2018 league campaign
However three points over your hated neighbours isn’t enough to define a season alone, there’s plenty more factors to Tottenham’s first home game that make it detrimental to their title aspirations. It comes down to the one word Spurs fans are sick of hearing already, and the season hasn’t even started yet – Wembley. “I worry for Spurs at Wembley”, “Wembley hoodoo” and “one win from 5 games” has been a regular unpleasantly appearing on the internet at the end of last season and throughout the summer break. Tottenham’s record of 2 wins in their past 9 Wembley visits makes for dismal reading, but is there a psychological reason Spurs struggle here? A bigger pitch? Fans too far away from the pitch? Same old, same old. However the fantastical ideas and manipulated statistics are just what make this game so important. Win – and the media may just back off, Spurs would have beaten the current champions and the Wembley hoodoo would be broken. Lose – and the repercussions could be much worse. Yes it would only be one game and the players and fans don’t need to listen to the media, a week later Burnley travelling to Wembley would seem as good an opportunity as any to turn things around. But Chelsea winning in the first game at Wembley could play on Tottenham’s mind about their ability to perform there against the big sides, a good win could send confidence levels soaring and Spurs could be in for a special season.
The people who will play the biggest part in this are the Tottenham fans. Wembley at its best can be a cauldron of passion with Spurs fans belting out their chants in unison, at its worst it can expose nerves, tension and that typical ‘Spursy’ feeling of “here we go again”. The Monaco game last season was a perfect example, the build-up was electric with Champions League music making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, the Tottenham fans then singing ‘Oh when the Spurs go marching in’ getting pulses racing and emotions running high. The first twenty minutes was the same with Spurs on top and the fans creating an incredible atmosphere but then Bernardo Silva popped up with Monaco’s first shot of the game and silenced 85,000 Tottenham fans. When that many ‘home’ fans fall silent in Wembley you could hear a pin drop, and even the most experienced footballer would struggle to shut out the silence, especially young players in their early twenties playing in their first Champions League match.
A good win could send confidence levels soaring and Spurs could be in for a special season
If Chelsea take the game to Spurs and score first, that old ‘Spursy’ feeling will be spread all around the massive Wembley stadium, a loss to your London rivals in a subdued atmosphere could have serious repercussions. Social media is full of Spurs fans slating the atmosphere at Wembley last season, hopefully the Tottenham chiefs have planned their seating plan carefully seating the Park Lane fans together to create the unbelievable noise that White Hart Lane produced last season. The players and fans will have a tough job on August 20th but if they leave Wembley with three points, the season will look a seriously exciting prospect, lose and us (possibly a little fickle at times) Spurs fans will be worrying about a tough season at our temporary home and looking over our shoulders wondering what should have happened in a so far barren transfer window.