Antonio Conte has found a system that really compliments all of his top players at Chelsea. The first 45 minutes against Everton in November when they went 3-0 up was one of the best displays of football I’ve seen in a long time. The manager plays a big part in getting the best out of his players, and Chelsea’s success at the moment has got a lot to do with Conte.
They are strong at the back and they’ve already kept seven clean sheets this season, but they play exciting, attacking football. That’s something you didn’t use to associate with Chelsea. Although they were successful, physical and functional, they were never free-flowing. They are a completely different team under Conte.
A lot of Chelsea players have blossomed now with Jose Mourinho gone – including Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Victor Moses. It was a brave call to get rid of Jose, but it was the right call as his behaviour at the club left them with no choice. With Mourinho it was all about him. Not the players. Football is a team game and he has the same problem at Manchester United now, where he thinks it is all about him. That’s why the players don’t play to their ability.
Tottenham’s luck is running out
Tottenham’s result against Monaco wasn’t surprising. To get knocked out of the Champions League is a big blow to them, but they didn’t strengthen their team in the summer and now their squad isn’t in competition with the top teams.
Last year they punched way above their weight and what Mauricio Pochettino got out of that team is phenomenal. They needed to freshen things up and they need players to do that.
Competition is key, it keeps everyone on their toes. They may have two or three good players behind their starting XI but that’s about it. If players get injured, there are no options to replace them. Christian Eriksen has been really out of form and looks a shadow of his former self, and in that creative department they have looked poor. Yet Eriksen will play, because there is no one else there. There’s no one to challenge him for his spot, no one to push him.
They brought Vincent Janssen in as a back-up for Harry Kane and he hasn’t set the world alight. Erik Lamela is injured and Deli Alli is a young kid so you can understand why he doesn’t have that consistency yet. It’s no surprise things aren’t going well this season.
Character without substance
Tottenham have come behind to get results against West Ham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton this season and there are positives in that. It shows they have character. But character only gets you so far. To be consistently successful you need substance. And Tottenham don’t have enough. If they manage to get in the top four this season that will be a huge achievement for them.
It won’t be easy for Chelsea to get the win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Tottenham are not easy to beat. They’ve shown that by going unbeaten this season. But Spurs haven’t really got the same grit they showed last year, and while it may be tough, if Chelsea play anywhere near the level they have at they should have enough to pick up three points.