IAN LADYMAN: Many happy returns for impassive Mauricio Pochettino as he enjoys the last laugh after Chelsea beat Spurs 4-1 in Premier League classic
- Spurs went to nine men due to red cards for Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie
- Nicolas Jackson bagged a hattrick for Mauricio Pochettino’s young side
- CHRIS SUTTON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is a CLOWN – It’s All Kicking Off
When Tottenham’s gang of nine finally succumbed and fell behind with 12 minutes of regular time remaining here, Mauricio Pochettino turned and clapped his hands like he was acknowledging a well-executed ten yard pass on the training field.
He was rarely one for exuberance celebrations when he was Tottenham manager. Equally, he hasn’t had much opportunity since he arrived at Chelsea. Maybe he is simply out of practice.
There was still a VAR check to come. Of course there was. How many did we have here on this frenzied night at this stunningly atmospheric football stadium in north London? Half a dozen? More? Probably more. Whatever the case, this was a game that lasted 111 minutes.
But on this occasion the goal – a simple side foot by the bafflingly erratic Chelsea forward Nicolas Jackson from six yards – was to stand. And on the back of it followed a first Premier League defeat for Spurs and the most significant win of Pochettino’s time at his new club.
There are caveats, for sure. Tottenham led early and were denied a second by the fact their captain Heung-Min Son was a hair’s breadth offside when finishing another whiplash counter soon after.
Mauricio Pochettino watched on as his Chelsea side just managed to beat Spurs 2-1 away
Nicolas Jackson slotted home a braceto give Chelsea an strong away win against nine men
Mauricio Pochettino was impassive for the majority of the game but did show some emotion
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At this stage Pochettino’s young Chelsea players were chasing shadows and not catching many of them. Had one goal become two then anything could have happened and not much of it would have been good for the South American and his visiting team.
When it was 11 v 11, Chelsea were up against it. But as eleven Spurs players gave way to ten – Cristian Romero – and ten then became nine – Destiny Udogie – so Chelsea were afforded an opportunity that they just about managed to take. Jackson was arguably Chelsea worst player but finished the night with a hat-trick of late goals.
On the face of it, this win may not look like much. But it will feel significant nevertheless. Before this game began no Chelsea team had beaten an opponent of note in the Premier League since Thomas Tuchel’s version beat Spurs in January of last year. Chelsea have had three managers since then.
So with Chelsea now in to the top half of the table at least, they can prepare to face Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday if not with confidence then at least with a semblance of hope.
Pochettino will know exactly what happened here. He will know what he saw and how it could have been different. Hence the muted celebrations at the end. But such has been the back and forwards nature of his season at his new club that he will know the weight that this result may yet carry.
If Chelsea have lacked anything this season then it has been some street smarts but also some confidence. Young players feel defeats particularly deeply.
So this may transpire to be a big night for Jackson and for someone like Cole Palmer. Nobody really knows or indeed understands why Manchester City sold Palmer to Chelsea in August. Pep Guardiola does not usually sanction the sale of talented English players.
He looks a Pochettino player, though. Brave and athletic and full of the optimism of a 21-year-old. Here, as Spurs began strongly, Palmer was taking balls on the half turn, easing past opponents, occasionally drawing fouls and relieving pressure.
Eric Dier’s smashed home an incredible volley from a tight angle but it was ruled out for offside
It’s easy receiving possession when your team is on the front foot and moving forwards. It’s a great deal more difficult when your team is pinned in its own half and every pass that comes your way finds you with your back to the direction of play.
Palmer was pretty much a lone beacon of hope for Chelsea early on. Pochettino watched from his seat in the dug out as the white waves crashed on his defensive wall. Even the best managers can feel a little helpless at times.
Having emerged from the tunnel to one or two boos before kick-off, the embrace he received from Ange Postecoglu would have drowned out most of them.
There is a little of Pochettino in the way Postecoglu’s Tottenham play. Bravely and with purpose. Whether Pochettino would have attempted to defend with such a high line with nine men as the Australian’s Tottenham did in the second half is a debating point and we think we know the answer.
Such was the frenzied nature of the game that at least some of the pre-game nonsense was soon left behind. Pochettino had irritated a few Chelsea fans with a suggestion he may one day be open to a return to Spurs.
He had, however, prefaced that comment by expressing a hope that he stayed at his current club until he died. So we can file all that in a file marked irrelevant.
A heated contest between both sides saw two red cards be shown to Tottenham players
Nicolas Jackson tucked home an excellent hattrick and takes his goal tally from two to five
Ange Postecoglou was handed his first defeat as Tottenham manager at the hands of Chelsea
Chelsea is Pochettino’s club now and it will be fascinating to see whether he can break them free from the cycle of boom and bust that has engulfed them in recent times.
On the evidence of the first quarter of the season, the ceiling looks relatively low. There may have to be some patience from top to bottom at Stamford Bridge as Pochettino tries to build something from a group of players that appears to lack a recognisable shape.
This will feel like a step forward, though. This will feel like progress. At the end, Pochettino was quickly on to the pitch to congratulate some of his players and share a moment with one or two of those remaining from his time here.
There was an embrace for Son and then he was down the tunnel, accepting a couple of offered hands from young Tottenham fans leaning down from above.
He always had manners, Pochettino. Whether he really has a team at Chelsea, we will discover over time.
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