1. Juan Mata is the early candidate for Player of the Year.
He can’t get into the Spanish national side and he’s been somewhat overshadowed by the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar at Chelsea and compatriot Santi Cazorla at Arsenal, but Juan Mata is the early leader for player of the year.
His movement and passing touch are wonderful and vintage Spain, but when you add his finishing ability, which was fully on display in both of his goals today… Chelsea’s whole squad deserves credit for the win, but the Spanish genius Mata is the best of the lot.
2. Chelsea are the early favourites for the title.
It’s a funny thing; of Chelsea and the two Manchester sides, the side that one would expect to need the most time to gel is Chelsea. But while United has struggled to fit Robin Van Persie into the side and City have – rather inexplicably, it must be noted – struggled at the start, Chelsea have taken the Premier League by storm.
The trio of Oscar, Mata and Hazard have proven too much for every defense they’ve met so far and it’s hard to see anyone slowing them down this year. Early on questions remained as to whether Chelsea would have enough width because all three players seem to prefer playing a more central role. But Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole have both been on form and have provided the needed width.
The player who could’ve tested that today – Gareth Bale – missed the match (more on that shortly). The scariest part is that Chelsea has done all this with a semi-comatose striker. If Fernando Torres were on form, Chelsea could easily have had six against Spurs. If Chelsea can add Falcao next summer, they may rule English football for as long as they can keep their front four healthy and happy.
3. All that being said, Spurs deserve credit for their performance today.
Strange thing about the match is that, as essential as Moussa Dembele and Bale are, Spurs actually missed Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto more. Had they been available, Jan Vertonghen would have paired with Kaboul in central defence, taking Gallas and his three defensive gaffes that led to goals out of the picture. (By the way, does Gallas have some kind of blackmail on AVB? I don’t know what Dawson has to do to get a look in, but Gallas’ continual presence in the first XI is baffling.)
Even with Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto in the lineup, that still doesn’t account for Kyle Walker, who has regressed significantly on the defensive side of things this season. He was never a great defender, but he’s been at fault on multiple goals this year, none more noticeable than Chelsea’s fourth. So that’s still worrying.
But as much as Spurs’ defensive was at sea, the front six was sound. Jermain Defoe continued his scintillating run of form, Aaron Lennon had some good moments, and Gylfi Sigurdsson looked surprisingly good coming in on the left. His finishing desperately needs to improve as he’s missed two or three sitters already this year. Based on his previous record, I’m hoping this is just a slump. Once he gets the first goal, hopefully his form will improve.
Big picture, Spurs had 26 shots, ten on target. That’s a good number against a team of Chelsea’s calibre, especially given the absence of Spurs’ best attacking player (Bale) and most tactically important (Dembele). Defeat may come as a blow, but for Spurs Champions League football is still a strong and realistic possibility.