Carlos Vinicius missed his chance after waiting 125 days to step into Harry Kane’s shoes… life without the Tottenham captain remains a problem for Jose Mourinho
- Carlos Vinicius toiled alone up front for 88 dispiriting minutes against Chelsea
- He sprang high and headed wide from Serge Aurier’s delivery – and that was that
- Benfica would not have sent him on loan if they thought he was the next Eusebio
Poor old Carlos Vinicius. Having waited 125 days to start in the Premier League and toiled alone up front for 88 dispiriting minutes, along came a chance – the chance – and he missed it.
Vinicius sprang high and headed wide from Serge Aurier’s delivery. And that was that. Perhaps it explains Jose Mourinho’s reluctance to trust the Brazilian up front for Tottenham.
He is not Harry Kane but that’s hardly his fault. He is on loan from Benfica and they wouldn’t loan him out if they thought he was the next Eusebio.
Carlos Vinicius had to wait until the 88th minute but missed his big chance
The on loan forward has had to wait 125 days to step into Harry Kane’s shoes up front
When Kane was injured against Liverpool, Mourinho’s first turn was to Son Heung-min, a player he insists is not a natural striker.
Gareth Bale was thrown in for a rare start at Brighton – but that didn’t go well either. Life without Kane remains a problem at Tottenham. He is more pivotal than ever in the role where he drops deeper and links up the play, creating for Son as well as scoring goals.
Not only do they miss his goals, they miss his vision and range of passing. How can Vinicius step in cold and replicate that? ‘Everybody prefers to play against them without Harry Kane, for sure,’ smiled Tuchel, ahead of kick-off.
Mourinho, meanwhile, bemoaned Chelsea’s wealth of options. There might be a new man in the dug-out, warned the Spurs boss, but the players were the same and there was strength in depth.
It’s easy to win trophies there, he noted, on the eve of the game. He always seems to covet someone else’s squad. When he was out of work, he admired Tottenham’s. Now, he seems to like it less.
Son Heung-min’s travails continued without strike partner Harry Kane, who is still injured
Life without the talismanic Kane remains a problem for Spurs boss Jose Mourinho
Chelsea’s, on the other hand, is suddenly brimming with possibilities. All managers in the top flight would like Olivier Giroud as their third-choice centre-forward.
In his first selection, against Wolves, Tuchel started with Giroud up front. Then, took a closer look at Tammy Abraham. It is like live auditions. Here, he omitted Abraham and moved Timo Werner back into a central role, trying to coax the Germany international back to form.
Werner’s confidence was visibly recharged by his contribution in the first half, winning the penalty for Jorginho to convert. Ultimately, it was enough to win the points.
Players offering little under Frank Lampard are coming to life under Tuchel. It might be something the German is doing or saying. It might simply be the way things work out when the slate is wiped clean.
Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has taken his chance well under boss Thomas Tuchel
Wing-back Marcos Alonso is another who has taken his chance under the German’s reign
Chelsea look a different proposition. Callum Hudson-Odoi is shaping up to be something like the player he promised to be when Bayern Munich tried to lure him away from London.
Hudson-Odoi did not explode as hoped under Maurizio Sarri or Lampard and yet he has been the breakthrough star of the early days of the Tuchel era. As a surprise wing-back in two home games and then, last night, operating as an inside right in support of Werner.
He was the most creative player in Chelsea blue against Wolves and Burnley, and here he performed well in another role. Linking up fluently with Mason Mount and Reece James or offering deft changes of pace or direction.
He was highly influential as Tuchel’s side dominated the first half. So, too, was Mount. Chelsea’s right side was too strong for Tottenham’s left. Son offered very little protection for Ben Davies. Moussa Sissoko and Pierre-Emile Hojberg had their hands full in the centre.
When Hudson-Odoi started to fade, on came Christian Pulisic who produced extra fizz on the break as Mourinho’s team began to take a few risks in search of the equaliser. On came N’Golo Kante to disrupt any attempted comeback.
New boss Tuchel (left) had the better of rival Jose Mourinho (right) in Thursday’s tactical battle
Tuchel has a wealth of options and because he is fresh and new they are all available to him. No-one has been alienated as they were with Lampard or as some show signs of becoming with Mourinho.
Dele Alli has been alienated and absent last night through injury. Danny Rose and Ryan Sessegnon are left-backs who might have filled the void left by Sergio Reguilon’s injury.
Little more than two months ago they beat Arsenal in the North London derby to go top of the Premier League. Kane and Son were lethal and Mourinho was trying to keep a lid on expectations.
There’s one problem he no longer has as Chelsea eased past looking fresh and hungry.
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