With the league leaders suffering a second defeat in four games after losing 2-0 at Manchester United on Sunday, the stumble in falling 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace two weeks ago has now developed into a full-scale wobble. Their lead over Tottenham is down to four points, and the momentum is entirely in Spurs’ favour.
Asked to elaborate, the Italian said he was unable to “transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this game”. But it’s a big game for us.
Add in Conte’s reminder of how this season should be seen in the context of Chelsea’s poor campaign previous year and the impression is left of a manager trying to lower expectations just when they are at their highest. I prefer to play for the title instead of don’t fight for the title and stay calm.
“I think we’ve learnt a lot”, said Pochettino.
Pundit Francis, who managed Spurs in the mid-1990s, reckons the pressure could get to Antonio Conte’s men in this season’s run-in as it has to many elite sportsmen in the past. We just have to do our job. If we win, we must be proud.
Conte, usually an irascible and tireless figure on the sideline, was oddly unmoved throughout, as if he couldn’t understand why Chelsea were so poor, and did little to change things during the game.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring for United, but in the build-up Ander Herrera appeared to control the ball with his hand, an incident which was missed by the referee. “It is purely a Cup game”, Cahill said.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes it would be a “travesty” if Tottenham Hotspur fails to win a trophy under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino.
He points out Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, and Cesc Fabregas as the players responsible for hinging the season for Chelsea as they continue to challenge for the Premier League title. “We know the league is not over, that it will be hard, but we know we are more than capable of doing it”.
Chelsea pipped Tottenham to the signing of Michy Batshuayi last summer, spending £33 million to land the Belgian.
Tottenham are certainly the form team going into the clash, having won eight matches in a row in all competitions and scored an average of three goals a game in that period. He said: “When you have a player like Michel Vorm, who is capable of playing at any club, he deserves to play in the semi-final”.
FC’s Steve Nicol has been thoroughly impressed by Spurs’ form, but thinks it’s too late for them to take the title.