Defending champions Chelsea finally got off the mark against Tottenham Hotspur, who continue their hunt for a victory at Wembley Stadium.
Antonio Conte’s men ensured that Spurs would have to prolong their wait for a victory at Wembley, after a Marcos Alonso double ensured that Chelsea left with all three points and their first victory of the new Premier League season.
The Blues, despite missing the services of Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, still managed to hold off their arch rivals and come away with a victory that will do wonders for their confidence. Spurs, for all of their possession and pressing couldn’t make the most of their opportunities and that proved to be difference between the two sides.
Marcos Alonso opened the scoring in the 24th minute, after which Michy Batshuayi equalised for Spurs late in the game. Alonso would once again step up and prove to be Chelsea’s saviour, after he was put through by Pedro in the 88th minute to win it for the Blues.
Tottenham, who went unbeaten at home for the entirety of last season have suffered their first defeat at home since May 2016, ending an admirable 19 game-unbeaten streak. They have now lost to Chelsea at Wembley for the fourth consecutive time.
The Champions have clearly shrugged off the defeat last week against Burnley in their opener and put up a smart performance, taking their chances when it came. We take a look at some of talking points from last night’s game.
Bakayoko’s Big Day
Antonio Conte’s new £40 million man finally took to the field for Chelsea after signing for the Blues back in July, over a month ago. Bakayoko was sidelined due to injury and as a result, did not feature for the Blues during their pre-season campaign.
In fact, the Frenchman only started training with the first team 6 days ago and had a played a friendly with QPR behind closed doors on Thursday. He is yet to return to full fitness, but had to be rushed into the starting XI due to Conte’s lack of options in midfield with Cesc Fabregas serving a suspension.
And so Bakayoko took to the pitch for the first time since May and featured for the entire 94 minutes. He came up against a midfield of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele and to his credit, the Frenchman held his own, if only just.
The lack of fitness and match rust was evident, but there were glimpses of what he was capable of, with a few marauding runs forward and shows of strength. However, he was penalised on a few occasions and looked slow and a bit out of place before slowly growing into the game.
The intensity of the Premier League will certainly take some getting used to. However, Bakayoko certainly has all the physical attributes and the athletic prowess to keep up with the best in the League and the 23-year-old will only get better from here in time.
Chelsea Approach Leaves Spurs Frustrated
Being short on personnel, Antonio Conte had to field Alvro Morata and Bakayoko, both of whom aren’t fully match fit and also 6 defenders in the starting XI. It was clear that the Blues were going to take a defensive approach and try and attack on the counter. And they did just that.
Chelsea had a mere 38% of the possession in 94 minutes and as a result, could manage only 9 shots over the course of the game. Spurs on the other hand, attempted 18 shots over the course of the match. The two shots the Blues had on target both resulted in goals.
In comparison, Tottenham managed 6 shots on target and needed Michy Batshuayi to score their equaliser. They could make nothing of their 14 corners and all those missed opportunities and their failure to create anything with all that possession eventually proved to be their downfall.
The Blues held their defensive line well and kept absorbing whatever Spurs threw at their goal. They were restricted to their own half for most of the game and Spurs were quick to win back possession. Mousa Dembele was in fine form and was a constant menace for Chelsea’s midfield.
Shots were blocked, parried and even the post helped them out on one occasion. While the Blues too failed to make the most of their chances, they managed to do enough. Marcos Alonso’s free-kick and a late finish (which should have been saved by Hugo Lloris) eventually proved to be enough.
Chelsea made 21 fouls over the course of the game and that helped break Spurs’ momentum, frustrating them even further. Only Alvaro Morata and Willian were ahead for Chelsea in the hopes that they could create something out of a counter attack, while the other 8 men just focused on protecting Thibaut Courtois’ goal.
Even the wingbacks, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso stayed back for the most part to ensure Spurs never got that width through Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies. Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz were all in decent form and kept Eriksen, Kane and Alli as quiet as possible.
The Blues did try to start playing the ball from defence but that never really seemed to work out. However, they kept their cool maintained their discipline and executed their gameplan to near perfection and this result will undoubtedly serve as a huge confidence boost going forward.
‘HarryKane’s Yet To Strike In August
Over the course of the 94 minutes, the Englishman attempted 8 shots. It was the most number of shots he had attempted in the English top flight without scoring. Kane has now gone an astounding 12 matches without scoring in the first month of the season.
Kane has a fantastic record in the Premier League against London based opposition, scoring 18 goals in 22 matches, but he has just never been able to find the net in August despite being the Premier League’s top scorer for the past two seasons and that makes the achievement even more admirable.
Sunday was an off day for the Englishman though. He came close to finding the net, but only managed to hit the post late in the first half. Chelsea defended well and Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz managed to do a fine job of keeping Harry at bay for the most part.
Kane now has 34 attempted shots in the month of August without finding the net and he is currently on 99 goals for Spurs in 167 appearances in all competitions. Fans will surely hope that the next goal doesn’t prove to be too elusive.
Alvaro Still Adapting
The 24-year-old got off to a fine start in the Premier League with a goal and an assist in his first match against Burnley, albeit he was on the losing side. However, he couldn’t quite build upon that promising debut in his first start for the club and was taken off in the 79th minute for Michy Batshuayi.
It didn’t help that Chelsea hardly had any possession and were on the defensive for most of the game. He often found himself isolated up front and as a result, had to drop back deep to try and contribute defensively and hope to begin a counter-attack.
He did have his fair share of chances however. The first one was after Azpilicueta put in a fantastic cross into the box early in the first half, heading the ball just wide from six yards out.
On another occasion, after Willian played him through in the counter, he found himself one-on-one against Alderweireld. But he took too much time on the ball, before trying to bring it onto his right foot and taking a shot, only to have Jan Vertonghen deflect it wide.
He seemed outmuscled and Spurs’ constant pressing saw his get closed down quickly. Indeed, Morata had far less of the ball than he would’ve liked. A far cry from La Liga where it was far less physical and the quality of the opposition almost never matched that in Real Madrid.
He needs to be given more time and a good run of games to settle into the Premier League and he certainly will be, given that Michy Batshuayi doesn’t seem to be giving him any competition. After a disappointing start vs Burnley, he followed that up by coming off the bench and scoring the equaliser.
By scoring that own goal, Batshuayi became the first Chelsea player to come off the bench and score an own goal in the Premier League since 1999. With performances like these, he’s certainly not doing himself any favours with Antonio Conte.
The Marcos Alonso Show
Needless to say, the Spaniard had a great match both defensively and upfront. The 26-year-old first got on the scoresheet with a stunning free-kick in the first half to give the visitors the lead, before scoring the winner past Hugo Lloris with a fine finish in the 88th minute.
While he was an integral part of their title winning campaign, there have still been doubts over his abilities defensively. But, he is clearly a great asset to have going forward. Alonso now has 8 goals and 3 assists for Chelsea in 38 appearances across all competitions.
He isn’t Chelsea’s most glamourous player, neither is he the most skilled. He isn’t even their best defender and his contributions often fly under the radar. However, his importance to this Chelsea side cannot be understated and he is one of the best defenders in the league, in his position.
Chelsea’s hunt for more wing-backs this season has been well documented as Conte looks to bring in competition for Alonso and Victor Moses on their respective flanks. The duo proved to be revelations in the previous campaign and their performances will be key to Chelsea having another good season.