All good things…
As they say must come to an end. I must admit that on the back of the Stoke performance and with an in form Spurs side at the Lane that I thought fourteen wins on the bounce would be a big ask. The 2-0 defeat was a fair result with a firing Spurs team finding Conte’s Chelsea off color. Both goals exposed our weaknesses at the back and Spurs ,having been shown the way by Crouch and company just a few days earlier, took full advantage. Ngolo Kante had a poor game by his ridiculously high standards, as did Dave and the rest of the back three. Hazard was marginalized by a well drilled Spurs defense and the spat between Diego and Pedro mid-way through the first half pretty much summed up the game for the Blues. So all in all a deserved Spurs victory.
On the bright side however, let us not forget that before the game at the Lane we had equaled the Premier League record for consecutive victories. Stand back and think about that for a bit. It’s pretty bloody amazing.
What a run
A run that rescued us from mid table down in eighth all the way to the summit and with a five-point buffer. Mr. Conte take a bow.
Even the most die-hard of fans would have looked at the performances in August and happily taken a spot in the Champions League come the end of the season. Fast forward three months and we still look the favorites for the title. A look back at the chasing pack reveals Liverpool as our closest rivals and with the Reds also without European commitments this season, they are still in my opinion our biggest threat to the title. The show down at the end of January at Anfield will go a long way to deciding where the trophy goes at the end of the season.
Below them lurk City and Spurs on 42 points. City’s Champions League charge will take preference for them and I can see Pep directing his efforts there rather than in the league. Spurs on paper have what it takes to make a proper charge for top honors come May but they have a horrible habit of bottling it when the pressure is really on.
Speaking of… Arsenal sit on 41 points and even stranger for Arsene Wenger’s side they are in fifth. Personally I thought they had a permanent lease on fourth but the Gunners delightful tendency of fluffing their lines whenever they start to look threatening means I expect them to be fighting with United and possibly City for the last Champions League spot.
I’m going to reserve judgement on our current form until the end of January. I have had a nagging feeling all through December that the side had begun to lose its focus and perhaps a defeat is not the worst thing in the world right now. Conte will have a much clearer idea on where our faults are and should have enough time to fix them before we climb on a train to Merseyside. I am hoping that the likes of Kurt Zouma and perhaps Ola Aina get a good run of games for the next three fixtures. All four of the goals we have conceded in the last month have come from the air, something an in form Zouma would eliminate. Marcos Alonso has also gone off the boil in recent games and with the speed of the Liverpool attack some young legs may be the answer.
Next up is the FA Cup fixture at the Bridge against Peterborough. I widely expect Conte to give the majority of our first XI a break and for the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and perhaps even the returning pair of Musonda or Kenedy to get some game time. We should get plenty of goals!
Until next week, just remember everyone has a bad day at the office every now and then, even Chelsea!