Mourinho praises Tottenham's strength in depth after LASK victory

By Sports Desk October 22, 2020

Jose Mourinho hailed Tottenham's strength in depth after a much-changed Spurs side earned a 3-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.

Just three players – Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies and Sergio Reguilon – retained their places from Sunday's 3-3 Premier League draw with West Ham as Spurs got their European campaign underway on Thursday.

But there was no lack of fluency on show as hosts Tottenham raced into an early two-goal lead before putting a seal on the victory in the final 10 minutes.

Spurs head coach Mourinho was understandably delighted to have seen his team earn such a comfortable victory in London.

"I'm happy for the squad," he told BT Sport. "We believe in the others because the others work so hard to play and be ready.

"Normally I wouldn't do it for the first match of the group phase playing at home, you want to make sure you get these three points, but I trust the boys and the answer was good.

"Not a magnificent performance but solid and safe."

Solid start  @SpursOfficial pic.twitter.com/5g81Ooawyl

— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) October 22, 2020

Mourinho's changes meant he was able to bring the likes of Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso off the bench in the second half against LASK.

Portuguese boss Mourinho admitted he is finding it difficult to leave so much talent out of the starting XI but compared the situation favourably to last season's battles with a lengthy injury list.

"It is hard because I feel for them. Of course everybody wants to play and for the boys it's a bit frustrating," he added.

"They fight to have more minutes and in the end not everybody can play, but it's great.

"Last season I had lots of problems with no striking force and not even wingers or attacking players in some periods of the season.

"Now we have this amazing squad and with UEFA allowing to have everybody on the bench, I look to my side and I have so many options."

Mourinho went on to share his belief that Spurs would have earned a more comfortable win over LASK had supporters been present.

He continued: "Yeah, we could [have scored more], but it's not a knockout game two legs, it's just about the three points.

"Of course, it could be more, I believe with supporters in the stadium it would be more because then they push and bring that extra bit of energy.

"But in the end, opportunities for people to play, to get confidence, three points and that's a good start."

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  • Tottenham 'just a pony' in Premier League title race? Lampard disagrees with Mourinho Tottenham 'just a pony' in Premier League title race? Lampard disagrees with Mourinho

    Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard disagreed with Jose Mourinho's assessment that Tottenham were "just a pony" in the Premier League title race.

    Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table following Sunday's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    But Mourinho was keen to play down his team's title chances after they collected a 13th point in five Premier League away games to begin the season – their most since 1991-92.

    "We are not even in the race so we are not a horse. We are the small, young horse – a pony. We are just a pony, and you see the difference," he told reporters. 

    "Joe Rodon was playing for Swansea. Thiago Silva was for many years and still is one of the best centre-backs in the world. And maybe one month of Thiago's salary pays Joe a year's salary. So, calm.

    "I'm very happy with Joe, very happy with the profile, and to be with my amazing coaching staff – Joao [Sacramento], Ledley [King], all these guys – coaching and teaching these guys, and working with Joe has been a pleasure.

    "I just feel sorry he can't play in the Europa League because it would be a great level of experience for him, and I believe the biggest game he played before this one was Championship play-offs and a Wales national team match, so I'm very pleased that he could come here and for 90 minutes he made one mistake.

    "[Eric] Dier made more mistakes than him, especially in ball possession, so I'm very happy with my team, very happy with my guys, very happy with this mentality – that we come to Stamford Bridge, we get a point, we are top of the league, and we are not happy."

    Mourinho used a similar analogy in early 2014 while in charge of Chelsea, and his side finished behind Manchester City and Liverpool in that season.

    Lampard, whose Chelsea are on their longest unbeaten run (14 games) since November 2018 and sit third in the table, disagreed with Mourinho and said Spurs had to be considered among the contenders.

    "It's Jose's call to say it how he sees it from his end but from the outside they're the top of the league, he's very close to the top. If we're contenders then they have to be contenders," he said.

    "I think if you've got Harry Kane and Son [Heung-min] in your team, Son's got nine goals, Harry's got seven.

    "They keep clean sheets well because of the organisation of their team. They would expect to be in the race. They've invested heavily, they've got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench. Dele Alli's not here, there's a strong squad there.

    "I think we're all competing. Jose can say it as he sees it."

  • Abraham urged to 'step up' as Chelsea draw a blank against Spurs Abraham urged to 'step up' as Chelsea draw a blank against Spurs

    A point gained, or two lost? Both Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and Tottenham counterpart Jose Mourinho felt their teams could have won a London derby that was big on pre-match hype but lacking in clear-cut chances.

    "That was a game where we respected them and they respected us," Mourinho told Sky Sports after the Stamford Bridge stalemate. A little too much respect, perhaps.

    The Premier League title hopefuls combined to manage four shots on target in a quickly forgettable contest that, like a loaf missing yeast, failed to rise.

    Lampard, meanwhile, reflected on a game where his team had the "handbrake a tiny bit up", even if a seventh clean sheet in nine outings shows they have some momentum to work with while parked nicely in third place in the table.

    One of the few openings came Chelsea's way as the capital clash neared a welcome conclusion, substitute Olivier Giroud not converting in added time when up against fellow Frenchman Hugo Lloris.

    Tammy Abraham watched on from the home bench as the man who had replaced him proved unable to grab a late winner. Abraham had moments to make a mark on proceedings before being replaced, only to fluff his lines on the big stage.

    There were a pair of inviting crosses from Reece James in the second half that were missed, while another delivery from Timo Werner – playing from the left in a front three – went begging.

    It summed up a frustrating outing for Abraham, whose 79 minutes on the pitch included four shots – none of which hit the target – along with 14 passes (he completed just 57 per cent of them) and 27 touches, a number only one better than his own team's goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy.

    The England international was a key figure in a successful first campaign under Lampard, scoring 15 league goals, but such exploits only lead to increased expectations.

    As former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink pointed out during Sky Sports' post-match coverage, the bar has been raised. If 2019-20 felt like a free swing for Lampard and his young squad, that early promise, coupled with substantial investment in the squad, has increased the pressure on all at the club.

    "He has to improve in those moments. He did ever so well last year when he came in, for half of the season he was a breath of fresh air, scored a lot of goals," Hasselbaink said of Abraham, who has started four games in a row in the league.

    "Second half of the season he had it tough, but it's normal because he's a young boy, but this season he needs to step up. With his stature, his ability, he should do better and score more goals and score more important goals."

    Abraham has three league goals so far in 2020-21, averaging one every 182 minutes. That compares unfavourably to last season, when he managed to score every 148 minutes.

    When it comes to big chances, the numbers are trending in the right direction. Last term he missed 22 such opportunities, but he has converted two of the four that have come his way so far in this campaign.

    Yet it is perhaps not too surprising that Abraham did not capitalise on James' delicious deliveries against Spurs, having scored just four of his 18 top-flight goals from crosses. Still, such openings cannot afford to be passed up now that the spotlight is more intense, both due to Werner's arrival from RB Leipzig and amid talk of a title tilt.

    "Sometimes I wonder if he watches clips of himself after the game, because sometimes his movement can be better, his hold-up can be better. He needs to keep on improving," Hasselbaink - who scored 69 times in the Premier League during his Chelsea career - added.

    Lampard was rewarded for showing faith in Abraham in his first year; now the striker must push on if he wants to make sure he is not left behind.

  • My dressing room is not happy, that's the thing that makes me happy – Mourinho My dressing room is not happy, that's the thing that makes me happy – Mourinho

    Jose Mourinho revealed Tottenham's players were left disappointed by the draw with Chelsea, with the Spurs boss lauding a "complete change of mentality".

    Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table – on goal difference – thanks to a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Mourinho arrested a two-match losing streak in the top-flight to his former star player Frank Lampard.

    Tottenham, who were 2-0 winners over Manchester City last time out, managed only five attempts, with just one of those on target, which came from Serge Aurier in the 15th minute.

    Chelsea, on the other hand, had 13 goal attempts, with Hugo Lloris called into action three times – twice late on to deny both Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud, who latched onto a Joe Rodon error in stoppage time.

    Mourinho believes the draw was a fair result but insisted his team were not happy, a reaction he believes shows the development of the players.

    "The one thing that I take from the game, that a draw here normally is a positive result," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

    "To go top of the league with that result is also a positive thing, and my dressing room is not happy – that's the best thing I take from the game.

    "We are not happy, and that for me is fantastic. It is a complete change of mentality, a complete change of personality.

    "You can tell us we didn't have many chances, and I agree, but how many did they have? That's the thing that makes me really happy – we are not happy with a draw at Stamford Bridge."

    It was the first time Chelsea and Spurs – who are on eight and nine-game unbeaten runs respectively – have played out a goalless draw in the Premier League since November 2015, and the first time in a top-flight game at Stamford Bridge since March 2012.

    "It was a game without many chances. I believe it is a game where they wanted to win like we did, but we respected them and they also respected us, and nobody gambled, nobody tried to change the direction of the game," said Mourinho.

    "Everybody was in the situation of 'one mistake, I punish you, I win', especially in the last 15, 20 minutes. They had one shot from long distance, we had in the first half more than in the second half. A big game, a difficult game to play for both."

    Tammy Abraham squandered three presentable chances for Chelsea in the second half, with Lampard stating the only thing missing from his side's display was cutting edge in the final third, with the Blues boss delighted by the hosts' defensive resilience.

    "It went how I sort of expected. I expected us to have a lot of possession and we did," said Lampard, whose side restricted Harry Kane and Son Heung-min brilliantly.

    At least one of Spurs' two chief destroyers had scored in every league game since they missed out in a draw with Newcastle United in September.

    "I thought we created enough chances to win the game, so we had good control," Lampard added.

    "The clean sheet factor against a team that we've seen are set up to play on the counter-attack, I thought that part of our game was excellent, to deal with the threat of Kane and Son in particularly, didn't really give them a sniff, but didn't quite take our chances."

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