Jose Mourinho’s underdogs knock Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup in the cruelest of fashions, but it certainly was not an injustice after Chelsea’s lacklustre second half performance.
Both Lampard and Mourinho made multiple changes to their starting XI’s from the weekend with Chelsea registering 8 changes and Tottenham 9. However, Lampard undoubtedly fielded a stronger XI which simply should’ve got the job done and it failed to do so.
Chelsea had all the possession in the first half and kept the weakened Spurs team at bay for large portions of it. Kovacic and Jorginho kept the ball fairly well throughout with the latter really controlling the tempo of the play. There seemed a slight lack of urgency for sizeable chunks of the half but Tottenham really posed little threat with their lazy press and lack of an out-ball.
Chelsea’s goal came in the 19th minute with a stunning finish from Timo Werner – his first goal for the club. Azpilicueta picked Sergio Reguilon’s pocket and then sent him sliding before an ordinary cross found Werner who proceeded to slot it home. But thats as good as it got for Chelsea in the game. The rest of the first half consisted of keep-ball with the occasional venture forwards but apart from Werner’s goal and a half chance that fell to Hudson-Odoi after a miscued clearence from Japhet Tanganga, there really was limited attacking threat in the first half.
Mourinho’s men looked a completely different side in the second half. There was a renewed energy about them that was made obvious from their aggressive pressing and quicker movement of the ball. Spurs started to cause problems in the second half but Zouma, Tomori and the impressive Mendy helped Chelsea hold on. Chelsea created two glorious chances in the second half, the first of which fell to Callum Hudson-Odoi after a delicious pass from Jorginho but he blazed it over the crossbar. The second chance fell to Mount where he had to play the simplest of balls through to Werner and he would be one-on-one with Hugo Lloris.
Ultimately, both chances failed to trouble the scorers and we really should’ve had the game won. Then the inevitable happened. Spurs’ much improved second half performance was rewarded when Erik Lamela stabbed the ball home from close range. Emerson, who came on for Chilwell, who played a solid game on his full debut, fell asleep and let Lamela in at the back post to score. The Spurs goal was much deserved.
The second half performance was quite frankly embarrassing and a lot of that rests on Lampard’s shoulders. He got it wrong. The approach was wrong and most crucially, the substitutions were not what was needed. Mount looked absolutely shattered and needed to come off, Kai Havertz would not have squandered that chance to play Werner in, especially as he would’ve provided fresh legs. N’Golo Kante needed to come on much earlier too, when he did come on, he was very impressive however.
With the game finishing at 1-1, it went to penalties after the 90 and it confirmed a baptism of fire for Edouard Mendy in net. Although he didn’t save a penalty, it would be incredibly unfair to criticise him after a stellar debut. Mason Mount missed the deciding penalty which ended our Carabao Cup journey in an incredibly disappointing fashion as he failed to get it on target.
There were a select few positives from the game: Mendy was brilliant, Chilwell was solid, Tomori and Zouma looked good for the majority of the game and Werner got off the mark, but all in all it was an incredibly frustrating game which we simply should’ve won and to put it bluntly, its a disgrace that we didn’t. It was a classic Jose underdog performance if you like but he was certainly helped by a dreadful Chelsea performance.
A massive chance for a trophy has evaporated into thin air just like that, with Lampard heavily to blame for it. The second half was abysmal and I hope to never see a half like it again, tactically inept and lacklustre performances like that simply cannot be repeated. All we can hope for is the sharp returns of Ziyech and Pulisic and for the other new signings to either keep up their good form or find it quickly, and then we should see some improvements in results.
Onto Crystal Palace on Saturday. UTC.