Antonio Conte is not a man who takes kindly to defeats, truth be told, and the manner in which his Tottenham team were outclassed by Chelsea three times in January would have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the fiery Italian. He didn’t say it in his pre-match conference ahead of the Battle of the Bridge on Sunday, but he wanted nothing more than to get over Thomas Tuchel. The game in West London had it all; passion, courage, drama, and it highlighted the bad blood between the opposing managers.
Conte and Tuchel had clashed during the game, but it was the incidents at full time that provided a sub-plot for the rest of the team, and sets the tone for what promises to be a tight title race throughout the season. Compared to the friendly and respectful camaraderie between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, this skirmish between Tuchel and Conte reminded everyone what the Premier League is all about: drama and managers doing all it takes to win a football game for their respective games.
On the pitch however, Chelsea dominated for large patches of the game but Spurs showed how far they have come since those defeats by The Blues, by showing character, drive and passion synonymous with Conte teams, and it shows they’d be there and thereabouts this season come the end of the campaign. Conte changed the structure of his team when be brought in Richarlison, by reverting to a back 4. The added attacker put pressure on the Chelsea defence and it was highlighted by the first goal they scored courtesy of Hojbjerg in the 68th minute.
Spurs had a great preseason and had done most of their transfer business early while The Blues are still in the market for more reinforcements, which meant that the neutrals actually put Spurs as favourites for the game, but the manner in which Tuchel’s boys played would have sent a signal to the rest of the league that they are here to stay, and fight till the very end, and Tottenham too are not far behind.
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