Following his much publicised ‘revenge’ match against his previous employers, a dignified Andre Villas-Boas praised Chelsea following their defeat of his new Spurs side.
“I think you have to agree that both teams played a good game here but you also have to accept that Chelsea’s trio up front behind the striker are amazing. They can unlock doors and create problems and they certainly managed to find spaces and managed to commit people because they are extremely creative and extremely good. There was individual brilliance from Oscar, Mata and Hazard, who were tremendous,” said the Spurs Head coach.
Fair play to Villas-Boas not to bemoan his luck as Spurs lost two of their best and most influential players before kick-off. Moussa Dembele, recent chief of the Spurs’ engine-room, was lost to a hip injury whilst Wales’ flying winger Gareth Bale opted out as his partner went into labour.
In truth, as much as Spurs missed Dembele and Bale, their back line simply had no answer for Chelsea’s magnificent trio – Spain’s Juan Mata, Belgium’s Eden Hazard and Brazil’s Oscar. By the full-time whistle, William Gallas, along with the rest of White Hart Lane, gained confirmation that his best days were far behind him. Meanwhile Kyle Walker, the Spurs and England right-back who had a defensively shocking afternoon (and is yet to reproduce last season’s form this term), decided that the only way he could deal with fans’ criticism was to delete his Twitter account but only after he wrote a line about trying his best – welcome to the real world Kyle.
Adding Fernando Torres to the equation, the Blues’ starting line-up on Saturday boasted an attacking array of talent costing £130m in acquisition fees alone. As a result, understandably heavy expectations weighed on these slender shoulders for immediate dividends this season. Whilst Torres continually frustrates in attempting to replicate his Liverpool form, the Stamford Bridge faithful, plus football loving neutrals, have not been disappointed with the other three. Individually, their awareness, movement, vision and touch are second to none. Collectively their skills complement each others resulting in pure dread for opposition defences.
To top it all off, by running amok in the Premiership, the said three are doing their best to change the brute reputation of English football. The greatest team of recent years, Barcelona, have often been critiqued that they would not put on such amazing shows if they played regularly in England, yet Mata, Hazard and Oscar are doing exactly that. All slightly built, looking more like jockeys than footballers – undeniably they are running the show. On current form, Chelsea owe their table topping status to them. Only the Lionel Messi orchestrated Catalan exhibition is more impressive.
In today’s football world, a player can still be penalised for winning the ball if they exert too much force or aggression into the tackle. As Spain have proven on both a continental and global scale, the brawler breed of footballer is slowly becoming extinct. Xabi Alonso only recently was disdainful at how some youngsters considered a strength of their own to be tackling. Alonso argued that tackling is certainly not a skill but learning to intercepting a pass is.
Hopefully, those in charge of the newly opened, £100m, St George’s Park National Football Centre recognise this.