Diego Costa pays the price for taking on his manager, the champions are learning to be hard to beat once again and other things we learned from Tottenham 0 Chelsea 0.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Costa is fighting a battle he can’t win
Sat stony faced on the bench, you did not need to be an expert in body language to read Costa’s mind. He looked furious. Probably not half as angry as Jose Mourinho was in midweek, when the striker reacted to his manager’s criticism from the touchline by getting involved in a heated half-time row with the Portugese in the tunnel. Despite having Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao unavailable, Costa was demoted to the bench and was not given a single minute of action at White Hart Lane. This spoke volumes for Mourinho’s feelings. With the Portugese still commanding the backing of the club and with Costa hardly covering himself in glory with goals, this is a battle the striker can’t win and shouldn’t even bother fighting.
Alderweireld is one of the signings of the season
Not since the days when Ledley King used to train fully has a Tottenham backline looked so assured. Much of the credit for that has to go to Toby Alderweireld, who has settled in superbly since his summer move from Atletico Madrid, via Southampton. The Belgium international delivered another rock-solid display, bar one hairy second-half moment, as he led from the back. Alderweireld has also had the knock-on effect of bringing the best out of Jan Vertonghen. The understanding between the pair is the foundation for the team’s improvement.
Chelsea will be happier with a point
It is a sign of how far Tottenham have come that the Premier League champions will be the happier of the two sides to have claimed a point from this disappointing encounter. But it is a sign of how far Spurs still have to go that they were not able to dispose of a mediocre Chelsea team. The exhausting trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday will have had an undoubted effect on the home side but there was a lack of guile from the men in white shirts as well as an absence of their usual high tempo.
Hazard leads the line in lively fashion
With Costa publicly paying the price for his falling-out with Mourinho and Remy and Falcao unavailable, Mourinho turned to Eden Hazard to spearhead the attack. The Belgian has frustrated Mourinho on multiple occasions this season but not today. He worked hard, his movement was excellent and he was dangerous on the ball. Hazard also forced Hugo Lloris to make the save of the match with a fine left-footed effort late on. This was like the Hazard of last season.
The Blues show green shoots of recovery
Mourinho declared himself content with what he said was Chelsea’s “best performance of the season”. It was certainly more like the team who cakewalked to the title last season. Organised and diligent, there was little room for Spurs to create chances and the visitors’ defence was far better protected than it has been for most of the campaign. To borrow Mourinho’s own phrase, they parked the bus. And to good effect. There was not too much fireworks at the other end of the pitch, although Hazard was denied late on only a brilliant Lloris save. Chelsea came for a point and got a point. Job done.