Football: 'Big things' in store for Spurs

Harry Kane celebrating with Serge Aurier after the Englishman put Tottenham 2-0 up against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday. The 3-1 loss was Chelsea's first in the league this season, as Spurs moved above them into third place.
Harry Kane celebrating with Serge Aurier after the Englishman put Tottenham 2-0 up against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday. The 3-1 loss was Chelsea's first in the league this season, as Spurs moved above them into third place.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Consistent challenge needed while Sarri says Blues' slow start exposes host of issues

LONDON • Maurizio Sarri had forewarned his Chelsea side that they could not afford a slow start at Wembley and needed to "approach the match in a different way".

But his cautionary advice fell on deaf ears, with Tottenham handing Sarri his first loss as Chelsea manager this season with a comprehensive 3-1 Premier League victory.

Dele Alli and Harry Kane put the hosts 2-0 in front inside 16 minutes and Son Heung-min's brilliant individual run and finish early in the second half was the icing on the cake for Mauricio Pochettino's men, who were superior throughout.

Olivier Giroud's late consolation goal was barely deserved and afterwards, Sarri claimed that the loss exposed "a lot of problems" and it had been coming because of the unfocused way his side began matches.

"I knew very well that we had a lot to solve and today was clear for everybody," the Italian told reporters.

"In the last three or four matches, we have started not really very well, and today, we had the same problem."

While he hit out at the defending, calling it a "disaster", Chelsea were just as toothless in attack, forcing him to substitute striker Alvaro Morata.

KEEP PRESSING

The problem is when we struggle to show the real quality because of a lack of aggression and the right attitude, and then it is difficult to perform the way we did today.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, urging his men to compete at a high level regularly.

The manager also admitted that he had to go back to the drawing board to rectify Chelsea's deficiencies, saying: "We have to work in training. It's not very easy and unfortunately, we have no time, we have to play every three days. But we have to try to do something."

Unlike Sarri, however, Pochettino has no need to tinker with his side's tactics and line-up after Spurs' fifth win in a row in all competitions saw them move above Chelsea into third in the league.

With Wednesday's do-or-die Champions League clash with Inter Milan and the north London derby against Arsenal to come on Sunday, Spurs could not have started a massive week in better fashion.

The manager also told his players they were capable of "big things" this term if Spurs can consistently reach the same heights.

"Our challenge is to keep going and be consistent. That's our challenge for the rest of the season," the Argentinian said. "With the right attitude, we need to realise we are a team who can compete at this level.

"The problem is when we struggle to show the real quality because of a lack of aggression and the right attitude, and then it is difficult to perform the way we did today."

While a title challenge is likely to be beyond Spurs given the relentless pace being set by Manchester City, qualifying for the Champions League for a fourth straight season will still be seen as a success given the upheaval created by the club's lengthy wait to move into their new stadium.

Alli felt the dominant win showed that Spurs had to be considered a "top side". "Maybe on another day, if we had been more clinical, we could have scored more," the England midfielder said.

Teammate Christian Eriksen concurred with Alli, but took the opportunity to have a jab at cross-town rivals Chelsea and Arsenal by insisting that Spurs were now the "best club in London".

"The mood in the camp is confident," the Denmark midfielder told BT Sport. "Hopefully, it's the start of a very big and important week. The Champions League is intense and a must-win, and Sunday, I'm looking forward to that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2018, with the headline ''Big things' in store for Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe