Tottenham 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points as Eden Hazard sparkles
Three talking points as Diego Costa remains on the bench for Chelsea's stalemate with Tottenham Hotspur
Diego Costa was a surprise omission from Jose Mourinho’s starting line-up for Sunday’s London derby. Perhaps inspired by Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge earlier this month, the Chelsea manager opted to start with a trio of attacking midfielders up front. While Eden Hazard, Oscar and Pedro Rodriguez all had attempts, only the Belgium international managed to register a shot on target as Chelsea lacked a focal point against one of the Premier League’s meanest defences. Indeed, The defending champions didn’t test Hugo Lloris until midway through the second half. Tottenham’s powerful centre-halves Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen kept the pint-sized trio under wraps. Costa may not have stepped out on White Hart Lane pitch, but the Chelsea striker still managed to court controversy after his petulant reaction in added time behind Mourinho in the dugout.
Hazard responds to Mourinho’s criticism
Jose Mourinho had more to say on Chelsea star Hazard before kick-off, appearing to suggest the Belgian doesn’t have the qualities to be a number 10. However, the PFA player of the year certainly looked to prove a point at White Hart Lane after he made more sprints than any other player on either side in the first half – 38. The 24-year-old showed plenty of endeavour as he roamed White Hart Lane looking to collect the ball and make something to happen for Chelsea. While he did give the ball away at times, he showed the defensive awareness to track back to recover possession. He was involved in the best moment of a close-fought derby as he met Branislav Ivanovic’s cross with a sumptuous first-time volley which forced Lloris into a brilliant save.
Tottenham genuine title contenders?
Jose Mourinho endorsed talk of Tottenham Hotspur challenging for the Premier League title at his pre-match news conference on Friday. Some would have branded that kidology from the Chelsea manager ahead of Sunday’s derby. But Mourinho’s sentiments were genuine, as echoed by his conservative line-up at White Hart Lane. The Blues boss picked a pragmatic side to avoid defeat at their derby rivals in a sign of respect for what Mauricio Pochettino is doing at Tottenham. Spurs certainly have a squad capable of launching a title challenge. Pochettino may be lacking super stars like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but their work ethic is impressive. Harry Kane is one of the Premier League’s best goal-scorers, whilst Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele are capable of moments of brilliance. Their core is strong enough to launch a sustained assault at the top but a more realistic target with be a top-four finish in what has been an inconsistent Premier League so far. Spurs are five points behind leaders Manchester City and Leicester City after 14 games following the stalemate.