Chelsea & Tottenham Are On Two Very Different Paths

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino /

0-0 is how it started and 0-0 is how it finished. A mostly drab draw took place between two contrasting teams. Chelsea continue to struggle, whilst the rising Tottenham claimed another good result despite not managing to get the 3 points on the day.

Neither side truly deserved to walk away winners, but the result told all what many knew already. Tottenham are a rising force not far away from becoming a real threat to the top echelon of the league, while Chelsea continue to flounder and search for answers under Jose Mourinho. Who’d have predicted that 4 months ago? This pretty much sums up where the Blues are at currently:

It’s not a stretch at all to say Chelsea are a shambles at present. Whilst not in as much crisis as they were after the 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, the club still languishes in 14th place in the Premier League 5 points above the relegation zone.

In what is arguably the most competitive season of Premier League football, the Blues find themselves 14 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City whilst 4th placed Arsenal sit 12 points ahead of their London rivals. There’s simply no getting around that predicament and they now have no margin for error.

It is not insurmountable yet, but no team has ever come back from where Chelsea is to win the title. In fact from the position they were in after 5 rounds, no team had ever placed higher than fifth. It’s also historically the worst start a defending champion has ever made.

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From what we’ve seen so far, is there really any evidence to show they can overcome that? This season they’ve beaten West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal (via Mike Dean’s horrendous refereeing), Walsall, Aston Villa, Dynamo Kiev, Maccabi Al-Haifa (twice) and Norwich. West Brom aside, has any performance really impressed? Take out the Arsenal farce and they’ve yet to beat a genuinely good team.

The defence has started to sort itself out and Thibaut Courtois will return to the first team sometime this month after a long layoff with a knee injury. They have stopped leaking goals somewhat, which is the foundation of any good Mourinho led team. However ahead of their goalkeeper there are problems all over.

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Kurt Zouma – Credit: Kody Platter (Flickr Creative Commons) /

Whilst Kurt Zouma has obvious promise, he lacks a reliable central defensive partner. John Terry looks older by the game, and Gary Cahill’s weaknesses are exposed the higher the line his team seems to play. Branislav Ivanovic has been targeted all season long by opponents, but his only good game was on Sunday when his team was deployed in a more comfortable deeper set up. This will not be the case most weeks.

Nemanja Matic looks a shell of the player who dominated the midfields of the Premier League last campaign and Cesc Fabregas looks unable to replicate the form that made Chelsea pay £30 million for him in the summer of 2014.

The Spaniard looks disinterested and came into the season unfit to say the least. He’s merely a passenger in the squad at the moment and was rumoured to be at the forefront of a player led revolt against his manager earlier in the season, though he has obviously denied any involvement.

Up front it certainly not does get any better, with supposed rifts developing in recent weeks with Eden Hazard and now Diego Costa after last week’s spat. Hazard has now not scored in over 32 hours for Chelsea, a simply ludicrous drought for a player of his calibre. There’s no questioning the Belgian’s talent, but 0 goals and 2 assists is not good enough now that the season is into December.

The reality is Hazard is still yet to put Chelsea on his back when it matters in a game, through a tough period let alone for a season. Despite being championed by Mourinho in the summer as belonging in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, the reality is he does not at all.

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Willian though is the bright spark for them this season. The player who ironically spurned Tottenham for a move to Stamford Bridge in 2013 has been superb for the Blues and is the creative hub of the team. The Brazilian has scored an incredible 6 goals from direct free kicks already this season, and his 4 set piece strikes in the Champions League is more than the rest of the competition combined (one).

The attacking midfielder is converting a ridiculous 54.5% of his free kicks, almost twice as many as Miralem Pjanic (28.6%) who is second best in this category. Whilst his teammates continue to fight their manager and flounder, he has thrived and is now their most reliable option.

Then of course there’s Jose Mourinho, who has swapped going strength to strength for weekly doses of scandal. It seems the Portuguese has gone from parking his team’s bus to throwing his players and staff underneath it at every opportunity.

His post match interviews have been cringe worthy this season and many have tired of his antics and meek attempts at mind games. However throughout all this he still has the full backing of the club’s owner and fans, and that is what counts. Without a suitable replacement available (or simply unattainable) he will be trusted to save his sinking ship.

The problem with his struggling stars also factors in those who deputise them. Due to constantly not putting his faith in youth or even his substitutes, Mourinho simply doesn’t have the depth to replace his struggling stars. A rebuild could become a reality depending on how the rest of the season pans out.

Meanwhile Tottenham are flying, certainly the stark opposite of their local rivals. A new found patience with their manager rather than knee jerk sackings has allowed Mauricio Pochettino to build a young, exciting team at White Hart Lane.

Despite an opening day defeat to Manchester United via an unfortunate Kyle Walker own goal, Spurs are undefeated in 13 Premier League games since. This includes the 4-1 humbling of Manchester City, the 4-1 demolition of West Ham and an impressive 5-1 victory over Bournemouth.

They struggled to get results early, but the defence has sorted itself out through the strong central defensive partnership of new arrival Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in front of Club Captain Hugo Lloris. Delle Ali ahead of them (alongside Eric Dier) is the breakout star of the season so far, crowned by a magnificent goal for England against France 2 weeks ago.

Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

Harry Kane seems to have found his goalscoring boots again and is set to prove he is more than a one season wonder. Daniel Levy has proven he is loathe to sell his stars even for top shelf prices and seems intent on keeping the group together. Christian Eriksen’s brilliant playmaking hasn’t even been mentioned yet, and his penchant for important goals cannot be understated.

The London rivals have a lot to prove still this campaign, but they are on very different trajectories at the moment. Despite the gap between them you would think they will be battling for league position at season’s end. That being said, can the Blues get it together in time to defy history and reestablish themselves amongst the elite? Time will tell.

Next: Lower Leagues The Future Of Premier League

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