A new era at both clubs, a new result in this game and some hilariously old-fashioned aggro.
A game that went against all molds by finishing all squares between Chelsea and Tottenham also culminated in the two managers going head-to-head, although it was almost the inevitable end of an event sizzling with emotion and anger.
Both managers were dismissed after Thomas Tuchel provoked Antonio Conte with the apparent firmness of his handshake. The absurdity of that phrase sums up what was an old piece of Premier League pantomime as it celebrated its 30th anniversary.
The most relevant element of all might have been Spurs doing to Chelsea what Chelsea did to them so often, and demanding a result with acrimonious character portrayal – and no little cynicism. Conte would say that’s what it takes at this level.
Harry Kane eventually returned to his best level, plundering an injury-time equalizer with a fine header from a corner.
Chelsea instead fumed about how that was allowed after Cristian Romero appeared to pull Marc Cucurella’s hair, but they had plenty to be angry about. The crowd was furious with the official Anthony Taylor.
Initially it looked like it could give them the fire to win the game.
However, under Conte, Spurs will always have something more.
They also proved that there really could be more about them this season. This would have been the kind of game they lost so many times, as evidenced by the fact that Tuchel had dropped points against Spurs for the first time ever.
Conte’s side weren’t at their best. They were very often second best. But the fact that they’ve still only forced one point adds to the talk that they could actually produce a title challenge.
That was all the more impressive given that they had looked beaten twice, particularly in the first half.
Son Heung-Min and Kane have rarely been as lukewarm as a partnership.
This was largely due to a brilliant effort from the imperious Reece James, who completely broke the bond between the two, mostly by putting the Korean in man-marking.
It didn’t help Conte that N’Golo Kante looked back on the form he was in when the Italian was manager at Stamford Bridge, filling almost any gap in the Chelsea structure as soon as it opened up.
And on the rare occasions something popped up, Koulibaly was instantly ready to shut everything down. He knocked out Romero early on with a ferocious duel, sending the famously resilient Argentine to the ground.
It was very much a show of who’s boss. Romero would obviously remember that.
While that emphasis on strong defense occasionally rendered Chelsea’s attack lukewarm during the German’s time at Stamford Bridge, there was none of that here. There were all angles, touches and runs, Raheem Sterling and Cucurella giving them another dimension.
In it, Kai Havertz offered some divine touches and it was his exquisite exchanges at pace with Sterling that led to the opening goal. Hugo Lloris had a good touch to force the corner but it seemed like nobody could do anything about Koulibaly’s volley. It was brilliant, as one might expect from a No9, which was all the more timely when Chelsea needed one.
Conte needed a change.
He offered one. He showed why he is an elite coach – albeit an occasional minor figure on the sidelines. Tuchel is not exactly spared criticism. Spurs could even argue after Koulibaly’s goal ‘he started it’.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg certainly offered a fine finish.
After a snappy foul ability on Havertz, the midfielder fired into the corner with impressive accuracy, only to draw attention to the touchline.
Conte gave something back to Tuchel, but usually went much further. The Italian ran from his technical area and aggressively yelled in Tuchel’s face. A brawl almost broke out before a drink break and a VAR check on goal calmed emotions somewhat. But it was still bubbling.
The game was open. It was now end to end, preparing for the grand finale. While that openness had previously served Spurs, the anger helped Chelsea. Sterling offered the release. His ball went through James who scored the most deserved goal.
That would normally have been the case in the past. However, this is a new Spurs. You have a new cynicism. It served them well and set Kane up. Then everyone was let go.
Todd Boehly, who was hailed with a huge banner before the game, now knows exactly what the Premier League is about.
Conte, meanwhile, showed that these Spurs are about something very different than before.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/chelsea-tottenham-result-premier-league-harry-kane-2022-b2144915.html Chelsea vs Tottenham: final score, report and highlights as Spurs hold a late draw in the first ‘top six derby’ of the season