Monday 23 September 2019

Is Diego Costa and Jose Mourinho's relationship beyond repair?

Chelsea's assistant manager Steve Holland (left), Diego Costa and Kenedy (right) before the Barclays Premier League match at the White Hart Lane,
Chelsea's assistant manager Steve Holland (left), Diego Costa and Kenedy (right) before the Barclays Premier League match at the White Hart Lane,

Matt Law

In a game that failed to ignite, there was as much drama on the sideline as there was on the White Hart Lane pitch

Kisses and cuddles might not be enough for Costa

Jose Mourinho claimed his on-pitch spat with Diego Costa in midweek had been cured by kisses and cuddles, but the 27-year-old was still dropped for the first time for the trip to White Hart Lane. Despite the fact he was Chelsea’s only fit striker, Costa started on the substitutes’ bench after scoring just four goals this season. It was also apparent that Costa did not warm-up with the rest of his team-mates ahead of kick-off against Tottenham.

Having pondered a move away from Stamford Bridge in the summer, Costa may well decide he wants to quit England at the end of this season and Chelsea will not necessarily stand in his way. In the meantime, however, Mourinho will need a new striker as early as January if he really has lost faith in Costa.

Pedro is finding his feet

Stealing Pedro Rodriguez from under the noses of Manchester United was billed as a considerable coup for Chelsea, but, by his own admission, the Spaniard has struggled to adapt to English football in a losing team. There have been signs that Pedro is starting to settle in over recent weeks and that was again evident at White Hart Lane.

With Costa left out, Pedro’s task was to support makeshift striker Eden Hazard and his speed of thought and feet caused the Tottenham defence problems on numerous occasions. Chelsea have been ponderous in attack this season, but an in-form Pedro can give them a genuine spark and a different threat.

Kyle Walker thriving on competition

Having burst on to the scene as one of the most exciting right-backs in the Premier League, Kyle Walker lost his way at Tottenham. Prone to a big mistake, Walker looked to be heading into the category of promising full-backs who never learn the art of defence.

But with Kieran Trippier brought in to put pressure on him, Walker has upped his game for Spurs and England this season, and, once again, looks like a right-back of real promise. He got away with a bad foul on Cesar Azpilicueta, but Walker was otherwise very good against Chelsea, cutting out dangerous situations and raiding forwards well.

Will Daniel Levy break old habits?

Tottenham have been here before. In 2012, former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp felt his team could be genuine title challengers. He asked for Carlos Tevez and Gary Cahill in the January transfer window, but got Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen. With no one team dominating this season’s Premier League, Tottenham again have the chance to put real pressure on the more traditional challengers.

But Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will have to decide whether he sticks or twists. Is he happy to just flirt with the top four and the title hopefuls, or is he serious about wanting to win trophies? Pochettino won’t be asking for star names such as Tevez and Cahill, but he will be keen for January reinforcements and Levy should back him.

Tired Tottenham

Eight of the Tottenham players who started against Qarabag and only arrived back in England at 4.30am on Friday started again against Chelsea. In normal circumstances, the home side would have looked to make a fast start and take advantage of the Blues’ vulnerabilities, but it was clear that Spurs did not quite have the legs to set a high pace.

It was also noticeable that central defenders Tony Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were not as sharp to the threat of Pedro as they usually might have been. Vertonghen was also yellow carded from a late challenge on Eden Hazard. Chelsea of last season would have taken full advantage.

Read more here:

The Left Wing - RWC daily: Bullet trains as Ireland spread wings

Also in Sport