EPL

'A lot of things went wrong' in Spurs defeat but Nuno feels first half set the standard

By Sports Desk September 19, 2021

Nuno Espirito Santo was keen to focus on a positive first half against Chelsea after Tottenham collapsed following the interval, when "there were a lot of things that went wrong".

For the second week in a row, Spurs lost 3-0 to London rivals in the Premier League, although they were initially more impressive against Chelsea than they had been at Crystal Palace.

The out-of-sorts European champions reached the interval with the game still goalless, however, and the introduction of N'Golo Kante then changed the game.

He scored Chelsea's second goal via a huge deflection after Thiago Silva had become the club's second-oldest goalscorer in the competition. The 36-year-old trails only Didier Drogba (37 in 2015) in that regard.

Antonio Rudiger blasted in a late third, as Chelsea had 14 second-half shots, including 10 on target. Tottenham mustered just two and one respectively.

"There were a lot of things that went wrong," Spurs coach Nuno told BBC Sport.

"Let's start with the first half – I think it was a good game, competitive. We were on the the front foot, started pressing high, creating problems and had chances.

"In the second half, the set-piece and goal changes the game. Then it becomes much harder, the game totally changed and Chelsea took control and were the better team in the second half.

"It's difficult, but I'm proud of the first half and of all the game because we had troubles in the team and the players went to their limits."

Spurs had 14 pressed sequences on Sunday, having averaged 10.3 per game so far this season, as they adopted a far more aggressive approach before half-time.

That subsided in the second period, in which Chelsea dominated 57.7 per cent of the possession, but Nuno repeatedly preferred to highlight his side's early work across his media duties.

The former Wolves boss described Tottenham as "fantastic" in that spell to Sky Sports, adding: "The first 45 minutes was huge for us. Now we have to sustain this level over the whole game."

Nuno then told a news conference: "[It was a] very good first half, very good. We competed really well, we played good football, we pressed high.

"So, we have the awareness that we have a lot of things we need to improve, but the awareness of the first half must stick with us so we can build on it."

He added: "If there's only one positive today, that was the first half."

Related items

  • White left Arsenal EFL Cup win with illness, not injury - Arteta White left Arsenal EFL Cup win with illness, not injury - Arteta

    Ben White limped off the field shortly after half-time of Arsenal's 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Leeds United, but it was illness rather than injury that forced his early departure. 

    Mikel Arteta said the only reason the centre-back started Tuesday was because a bug circulating through the Arsenal dressing room left Pablo Mari unable to go. 

    The same issue compelled the manager to remove White in the 55th minute, but Arteta said White should be fit for Saturday's Premier League fixture against Leicester City. 

    "[Mari] was going to start and he couldn’t – he had a bug, something happened around here," Arteta told Sky Sports. "White wasn’t feeling great in the second half so we decided to take him off

    Arteta added that White had been dealing with the same illness the previous few days but did what he could. 

    White's departure proved fortuitous for Arsenal, as Calum Chambers came on to replace him and headed home the first goal of the game within seconds. 

    Asked if he had ever had a substitute pay off that quickly, Arteta said "I don't think so." 

    "I’m so happy in particular for Calum," he added. "He totally deserved it. It was a great moment because it helped us to win the game. He’s someone who deserves the best for who he is as a person and how he behaves as a professional."

     

  • Tuchel hails Saul's performance against Southampton as a 'huge step in the right direction' Tuchel hails Saul's performance against Southampton as a 'huge step in the right direction'

    Thomas Tuchel was delighted with the all-round display of Saul Niguez as the Chelsea midfielder impressed in Tuesday's EFL Cup tie with Southampton.

    Chelsea required a penalty shoot-out for the second round running in the competition, as Reece James' cool spot-kick ultimately sealed the Blues' progression to the last eight.

    James' penalty sealed a 4-3 shoot-out win after Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone failed to convert their efforts following a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    The five-time champions have now won all three of their matches against Southampton in the competition. The last such meeting was back in 1997-98, with Chelsea going on to lift the trophy that season.

    Saul had played only once – against Malmo in the Champions League last week – since featuring against Aston Villa in the previous round, yet the Atletico Madrid loanee, who was taken off at half-time in his sole Premier League appearance, completed the full game.

    He went close to opening the scoring with an excellent header six minutes in, forcing Fraser Forster into a top-class save.

    Having seen another header saved just before the hour, Saul then had two attempts from the edge of the area in quick succession, with a crisp strike flashing just wide before Forster again denied the Spain international, diving to his right to keep out a shot that was dipping in.

    Saul finished on four efforts in total, with a joint game-high three on target, and along with midfield partner Mateo Kovacic, the 26-year-old went in for a game-leading six tackles, completing three, though he did concede four fouls.

    It was a performance that left Tuchel highly impressed.

    "[He had] a good match, a huge step in the right direction for him," Tuchel told reporters.

    "I am happy. We thought maybe he would be struggling with the intensity at the 70th minute but he got better and better, had chances and shots.

    "We thought let's keep him and give him the minutes. It was a good step for him."

    Tuchel explained that Chelsea's options were limited after three players who could have started – Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen – were unable to train ahead of the match.

    "Azpi injured his shoulder, let's see," Tuchel said. "We hope he will be fit, he is a tough guy. Maybe he will be fit Saturday [for the game against Newcastle United]. Ruben has a pain in his hip, in his joint. Andreas had tooth surgery and should be fine to train on Thursday."

    Chelsea had 23 shots in total, with 14 on target – Forster pulling off 13 saves in total and only beaten by Kai Havertz's header. Southampton, who equalised through Che Adams, had plenty of chances themselves, however, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making six stops.

    "It was an intense match of football, nice to watch for the spectators," Tuchel added. "It was an open fight, an intense match. We did a good shootout, a lot of quality. I liked the energy today, it was a good game."

  • Arsenal's Nketiah working hard for Premier League chance Arsenal's Nketiah working hard for Premier League chance

    Eddie Nketiah said he will continue to knuckle down at Arsenal to force his way into Mikel Arteta's Premier League plans.

    The 22-year-old striker scored Arsenal's second in a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday, which took his tally to seven goals in eight appearances in the competition.

    Nketiah, who had three shots with two on target in the match, has yet to feature in the league this season for the Gunners and is eager to press his claims with head coach Arteta.

    "It is always nice to play, it’s obviously been a while," he told Sky Sports.

    "I’ve been working hard, waiting for this opportunity. I was confident and ready and it’s always nice to score and help your team.

    "We’re on a good run at the moment and it’s about continuing to work hard. We push each other every day in training and the results come in the match.

    "I'm happy for the boys and it’s nice to get involved and contribute."

    Nketiah said all of Arsenal's fringe players have to take their chance whenever they get them, especially given their recent upturn in form, which has seen them go eight games unbeaten in all competitions.

    "That’s what we’re trying to do," Nketiah added.

    "The manager picks the starting line-up but we have to work our hardest in training, and when we get the opportunities, we perform like we did today. I think everyone should be proud of themselves."

    Arsenal's opening goal was scored by Calum Chambers who headed home just 24 seconds after he had come on as a substitute following an injury to Ben White.

    The defender sprinted to celebrate with the Arsenal bench and one person in Arteta's backroom staff in particular after the ball was deemed to have crossed the line by goal-line technology.

    "Our set piece coach Nico told me, 'you’re going to score from your first touch', so that’s why I went running over to him. It was a nice moment," Chambers said.

    "I was pretty confident it went over, I saw the ball over the line so I was just waiting for the referee to give it. Luckily he did.

    "It's always going to be tough against Leeds. They're a very unique team in the way that they play so you have to be on it, you have to be at it and we knew that going into the game. 

    "We stood up to the test and came out with a win."

    Chambers claimed Arsenal's players are determined to go as far as they can in the EFL Cup, which they last won in 1993, even though it is down the list of priorities for other clubs.

    "Every competition is very important for Arsenal," he said, with the draw for the quarter-finals on Saturday.

    "We want to be competing for silverware, so as I said it's good for players like us who want to prove a point and get back in the team and when we do, we need to take it. Every competition is important to us."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.