Tottenham versus Chelsea pits last season’s second vs first. It’s evidence of the craziness of this transfer window that the match doesn’t really feel like it. Both teams have taken chances this summer for completely different reasons, but the club who did nothing look far more stable. With Chelsea looking messy, they could learn a lot from Spurs’ patience.
Chelsea look a little lost and in desperate need of a lift after a summer of change. John Terry finally leaving, Diego Costa being left to rot in a prison where he has absolute freedom to do what he wants (other than move clubs), Antonio Conte signing a new deal where he didn’t want to commit to a longer contract but just got more money, Victor Moses somehow remaining a first-choice player; Chelsea haven’t exactly had a comfortable window. Meanwhile, the only chaos Spurs have created is by promoting an academy right-back with a name that is nearly identical to the one they just sold.
Find it difficult to believe Kyle Walker-Peters is not madeup #Supersunday
— Niz (@Nizoid_MCFC) August 13, 2017
That’s almost blasphemy in this window of all windows – spending ludicrous amounts of money on players you don’t really need, or could simply find a reasonably priced alternative to, is just how it’s done these days; Manchester City were lightning fast to add another expensive creative midfielder named Silva, whereas Liverpool look devastated that they failed to add a sixth box-to-box player in their midfield; Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, just kept the squad they have.
There really isn’t too much to say or analyse about how Spurs have gone about things, but that’s really the point. This is a team that finished second last season, looking even better than they did the previous season when they finished third, which is how a youthful squad is supposed to work. They’ve kept all of their key players, selling arguably their most expendable starting XI player for an enormous fee. Kane is still there, Alli, Dier, Eriksen, Son, the centre of their defence, their goalkeeper and captain – this is the young team that did well last season, only a year older and a year further gelled.
All of those players mentioned required a little patience and faith – indeed, Harry Kane wouldn’t be where he is now if he’d started at virtually any other Premier League side. Dele Alli wasn’t deemed important enough for Liverpool’s focus, but Spurs gave him opportunities and now he’s one of the league’s best. Given the tumultuous summer endured by Chelsea, it’s hard not to wonder if they’d have been better placed to have the same faith in their own.
No team loans players out like Chelsea does. We know this. It’s unbelievably ridiculous but it’s what they do. They have sent nearly 30 players out on loan this summer and now find themselves lacking some squad depth. Hazard, Pedro, Cahill, Bakayoko, and Fabregas are all missing for their trip to Wembley. That’s obviously a lot for any team, but Chelsea, with more players on their books than anyone, find themselves struggling to cope.
At the same time, though, this is a team with five players out at Premier League clubs. Players who are considered to be of the standard to play in England’s top flight aren’t being used by a club in that league who needs more depth – it’s complete madness. And that’s even without considering that they sold Nemanja Matic to one of their fiercest rivals for reasons that no one can truly understand. Or Nathan Ake being sold to Bournemouth at a time when they need centre backs.
— Nischal (@SaintShaqiri) August 6, 2017
They want defensive cover, but Zouma is out at Stoke. Attacking cover is important, but Tammy Abraham is over at Swansea and Izzy Brown is with Brighton. Midfield? Kasey Palmer finds himself at Huddersfield and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is getting games with Crystal Palace. And that’s not to mention the likes of Nathan Chalobah and Dominic Solanke who got so fed up with the loans that they left for Premier League clubs.
Chelsea will arrive at Wembley on Sunday to face a side that is built entirely on the faith they put in their players. A team they finished above last season, but will not be considered favourites to beat. Tottenham, a team who have added absolutely nothing, even look safer bets to challenge for the title this season.
But is that even the end of it? Chelsea aren’t the Chelsea of ten years ago – far from it. There is no Terry, no Lampard, no Cole, no Drogba; this side simply doesn’t have those reliable players with which to build around. They’re gone, age finally catching up to Chelsea – and the most dangerous part of it all is that Chelsea do not have the financial power they once had to replace them. The scales have balanced, and instead of being able to go out and buy this new core by flashing their bank account at starry-eyed players, Chelsea are left needing to take a few more chances.
They haven’t though. When the time came to have faith in their youth, to have the patience to build something long term, they reverted to the same old: loan them out, spend the money to sign established stars. Those stars have gone elsewhere, and Chelsea haven’t got back up – Stoke, Swansea, Brighton, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Watford, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Bournemouth do.
Tottenham vs Chelsea. One team looked at the market and put their faith in what they had, the other decided they could get the better of it and look like they lost. The two drastically different philosophies clash on Sunday, and it looks for the first time in a long time that patience may have won.