Is this what happens when two teams get a whiff of the title? Jose Mourinho got his point to take Tottenham back to the top at former club Chelsea… but forget the tactical battle some predicted, we saw two teams who were afraid to lose
- Early title contenders Chelsea and Tottenham drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge
- They were divisions top scorers at start of weekend but neither threatened goal
- Rather than go for the win, both sides seemed satisfied not to lose the game
- The draw took Tottenham top, and it is often how Mourinho builds title charges
Is this what happens when two new contenders emerge and get a whiff of the title?
Because the overriding scent here was fear. For two teams who, before this weekend, were the division’s top goalscorers, they really were afraid to go and score the goal needed to win this game.
It’s not as if they lack the personnel to do so, either. Scared to lose, you might say. Chelsea may consider that harsh – they had 61 per cent possession – but they did not draw a save of note from Hugo Lloris until a Mason Mount blast 10 minutes from time.
Early title contenders Chelsea and Tottenham played out 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge
The game was billed as potential early title decider but we saw two teams afraid to lose
It said much that Joe Rodon was making his first start for Spurs but the rookie centre-back was allowed to look like a veteran, so untroubled and composed was he for the majority. Not quite the runaround from the likes of Timo Werner the Wales defender had expected.
And forget those who call this an intriguing tactical battle. It wasn’t. Jose Mourinho knew that a point would take Spurs back to the top of the table and he probably knew opposite number Frank Lampard would have settled for that, too.
The visitors did not have an effort on goal in the second half. They set themselves up like a counter-attacking side, only minus the ambition to counter-attack. Chelsea grew increasingly bored of the ball – Spurs just let them have it – and that was evident by the manner in which they ran out of ideas.
Debutant Joe Rodon was made to look like a veteran defender after being relatively untroubled
There was no desperation to their play, no great desire to claim the victory that would have taken them top.
And perhaps that is indicative of where they are at this season. Listen to Lampard and you know he does not like to lose against top-six rivals – as if to do so would bring his credentials into question – and four wins from those 10 fixtures last season was a decent return.
But it’s two points from nine this term and turning just one of those into a win would have them at the summit of the table right now.
Given the attacking players Chelsea have, this was an opportunity missed in that regard. It could even be one they come to regret should they remain in the hunt for the title.
Frank Lampard doesn’t like to lose vs big six rivals but has only two points from possible nine
As for Spurs, we should not have expected anything else. Mourinho lost twice to Lampard’s Chelsea in the Premier League last season, and he did not enjoy it.
Factor in the incentive of a point reclaiming top, and the former Chelsea boss was always likely to kill the contest. He tried to claim afterwards he was not necessarily happy with a point. Too right – he was more than happy, he would have been delighted.
This is how Mourinho builds a title challenge, and it is often at the expense of entertainment. Sadly, that is exactly what we saw here.
Spurs were happy witha point to go top, often how Jose Mourinho builds his title challenges