Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win vs. Tottenham

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Antonio Conte‘s men went back to the top of the Premier League after a comeback win which handed Spurs their first defeat of the season.

Despite Spurs dominating much of the first half, they only led 1-0 through Christian Eriksen‘s screamer and right on half time Pedro‘s stunning curling effort made it 1-1 and totally changed the momentum of the game. Victor Moses scored the eventual game-winner early in the second half to hand Chelsea their seventh-straight win in the Premier League.

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Here’s what we learned from another feisty London derby between these teams as Spurs’ last league win at the Bridge is still back in 1990.


SPURS FAIL TO MAKE MOST OF BRIGHT START

There was no UEFA Champions League hangover from Tottenham after their disappointing exit from the UCL at the hands of Monaco on Tuesday.

The opening 30 minutes were perhaps Tottenham’s best of the season. But it wasn’t good enough.

Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli were dictating play in midfield. Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen weren’t giving Diego Costa a sniff and Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen looked dangerous in attack.

Yet Spurs didn’t make the most of their chances when they were on top and it cost them, big time. In the first half Harry Kane had a goal disallowed for offside and rifled a shot towards the top corner which Thibaut Courtois pushed over. They dominated play with eight shots to Chelsea’s one inside the opening 35 minutes, but apart from Kane’s drive they lacked a true cutting edge. Then, Pedro’s goal on half time knocked the stuffing out of fragile Spurs and they never truly recovered despite Eriksen having a half chance and Alli shanking a shot over from a glorious chance.

Tottenham’s run as the only unbeaten team in the Premier League is over and it will be intriguing to see how Pochettino’s young side bounce back from a week which has seen their UCL dreams dashed and their unbeaten run end at the hands of their London rivals.


CHELSEA STRUGGLE WITH HIGH PRESS

Yes, Chelsea recovered from a poor start but they once again looked ruffled after a high-press approach from their opponents. The Pl leaders have looked imperious since their switch to 3-4-3 following the defeat at Arsenal in September but there were a few chinks in their armor.

Just like their defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool back in September, Conte’s side started sluggishly and Tottenham’s typically intense high-pressure looked to be getting the job done. Chelsea got out of jail with Pedro’s goal right on half time and they knew they had to make the most of the gift they’d been given.

Even when they went ahead, Conte wasn’t pleased with his teams sloppy play in midfield as they gave the ball away and almost let in Kane and Alli. Conte screamed in frustration on the sidelines, kicking over a water bottle when Nemanja Matic was guilty of a particularly poor giveaway. For the closing stages he was desperately shouting at his midfielders, urging them to slow down and take care of the ball. Going forward, Chelsea know they have to handle the high-press tactics employed by many PL teams better if they’re going to keep this incredible form going.


COSTA THE CREATOR

The Premier League’s leading scorer didn’t find the back of the net on Saturday but he made key contributions when it mattered most.

Diego Costa was a menace. For Moses’ goal he surged into the left side of the box and pulled a perfect ball back for the Nigerian to sweep home. Seconds later he did the same on the right side of the box as he teed up Marcos Alonso but he skied the ball over the bar. That was Costa at his best and he certainly had a tough time against Spurs’ two bruising center backs.

It was clear Costa was targeted by Spurs. After two minutes Eric Dier clattered into him and Jan Vertonghen looked at him and gave him the nod. For the first 30 minutes Costa didn’t get a kick but he battled on and proved decisive in the end.

With his key contributions the Brazilian striker is making a huge difference as Chelsea’s surge to the top of the table shows no signs of ending.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Watford

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  • Chelsea are without N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses (both hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) is still absent.
  • Watford remain without Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl (both thigh), plus long-term absentees Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah and Isaac Success (all knee).
  • Watford have not won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1986, but the Hornets have won 10 points of a possible 12 on the road. 
  • Chelsea have lost three of their first eight matches this season. No team has ever lost this many of their opening eight matches and still won the Premier League title.

Watford heads south for another London derby with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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The Hornets have had an amazing start to the season and currently occupy fourth place on 15 points, two points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea, which has lost two-straight Premier League games. The Blues have struggled without N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata and there have been reports of grumbles from the squad about dissatisfaction with Antonio Conte‘s training methods, but the Chelsea coach has brushed those rumors off.

Meanwhile Watford is coming off a confidence-boosting win last weekend against fellow Londoners Arsenal, and the club is looking to take down another big club for a second-straight week.

What they’re saying

Watford manager Marco Silva on his team’s start“I want everybody to be really calm. We did really in the first eight matches but it’s too early. We want to continue to work hard every day. Everything changes fast and you need to keep going and treat the next game as the most important. But of course I feel proud.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on being under pressure: “‘Do I feel the pressure? Every manager feels pressure, but I try to give all of myself into my job, so I’m happy when I go home because I know in every moment I give all of myself for the fans, the players and the club. In football you know anything can happen, but the most important thing is to work.”

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Prediction

Chelsea has its back against the wall but the team’s overall quality should be enough to see them through with all three points against Watford. The Hornets luck runs out in Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hold on for a late win. Chelsea 2-1 Watford

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.