Tottenham managed to win at Stamford Bridge for the first time in the Premier League era as they came from a goal down to win 3-1 against Chelsea. It was a hugely important victory as it has seen them move eight points above their top-six rivals and another year of Champions League football now looks increasingly likely. To continue their progression under Mauricio Pochettino, it is important to be fixtures in Europe’s premier competition and they look set to qualify for the third successive season.
Dele Alli was the undoubted star of the match as he scored a brace to give his team the three points in the second half. However, Tottenham were very good in every department and looked a solid unit throughout the ninety minutes. The centre-back pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen continues to improve with both delivering good displays against Chelsea.
They made a combined 12 ball recoveries and 16 clearances to keep Chelsea to only one goal. Their positioning was spot on throughout and it was clear that they have managed to develop a good understanding throughout this season. There have been times when Sanchez has looked inexperienced, but he has learned from his mistakes and has the makings of an elite centre-back. It will be invaluable for him to learn from Vertonghen who has been one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League since arriving on these shores.
In addition to being dependable at the back, both defenders managed to contribute in possession and are the perfect players for Pochettino’s system. The Argentine coach wants to have 11 players that are comfortable with the ball at their feet, so the team can build from deep and use the defenders to launch attacks. Vertonghen (88%) and Sanchez (90%) both ended the match with high pass completion rates.
One question that has been hanging over Tottenham this season has been regarding the future of Toby Alderweireld. There have been rumours about his long-term future, with the most recent report coming from the Mirror over the weekend. They reported that Chelsea were keen to win the race to sign the Belgian, but they will face competition from Barcelona and Manchester United, who will be expected to fork out around £55 million.
This isn’t the first report linking him with a move away from Tottenham and it won’t be the last. It is clear that something isn’t right behind the scenes and Alderweireld’s lack of game time is evidence of that. The defender hasn’t featured in the Premier League since October. The major reason for this has been injury related, but Pochettino doesn’t seem in a rush to get him the Belgian international back into the starting eleven.
The victory over Chelsea was significant for Alderweireld, as it showed that the team could win big matches without him. Furthermore, it was interesting to note that Harry Kane was brought back from injury quickly and featured at Stamford Bridge ahead of schedule.
Pochettino has regularly spoken about not rushing Alderweireld back from injury, but he seems more willing to bring Kane back as quickly as possible. Admittedly, the striker’s injury wasn’t as serious, but it is interesting to note nonetheless.
It would have been a controversial opinion to suggest Tottenham could cope without Alderweireld a year ago, but his potential exit is now looking less ominous for the club. The win over Chelsea showed that he isn’t as integral as many thought he was before his injury.
His omission from the starting eleven was supported by many Tottenham supporters:
Poch dealing with Alderweireld in the correct way for me. If Toby is off in the summer then he shouldn’t feature ahead of Sanchez for the rest of the season.
— Yidvids (@YidVids) April 1, 2018
Why’s everyone so convinced that this means Alderweireld is off? He’s recently returned from injury and played a few days ago, so it would make sense that he’s not ready for his second match in a week, no?
— Chris Miller (@WindyCOYS) April 1, 2018
Although there were some that disagreed with his treatment:
Pochettinos treatment of Alderweireld is nothing short of shocking. Fit enough for Belgium but not for enough to make our bench, really poor management.
— James Astley (@jay11284xxx) April 1, 2018
The performance of the team showed that Alderweireld isn’t as important as many thought:
Whilst the talk pre-match was all about Alderweireld not being selected by Pochettino. Once again the likes of Sanchez and Dier did their talking on the pitch.
— Ricky Sacks ? (@RickSpur) April 1, 2018
— Spurs Centre (@Spurs_Centre) April 1, 2018
That performance showed exactly why we won’t miss Toby Alderweireld. He’s a class defender but Sánchez, Vertonghen, Dier are all more than capable.
— LP ?? (@Verttonghen) April 1, 2018
Davinson Sanchez received a lot of praise for his performance:
With all the talk pre-match about Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez has again been excellent so far in a big match for Spurs. Still just 21-years-old.
— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) April 1, 2018
Davinson Sanchez one of the best 1v1 defenders out there right now. Not afraid to get tight with his man due to his physique. Muscular, but not too muscular.
— RG (@registability) April 1, 2018
MOTM Eriksen but was really impressed with Sanchez getting better every time I watch him
— Steven Pienaar (@therealstevenpi) April 1, 2018