Home is where the Hart is: Marcos Alonso double sees champions Chelsea sink Tottenham

Chelsea responded from the humiliating opening to their title defence by extending Tottenham’s Wembley woe with a 2-1 victory in the first Premier League clash at the national stadium.

Marcos Alonso scored twice for the visitors as Antonio Conte’s men, champions in May, responded from the opening home loss to Burnley.

Alonso’s first-half free-kick was cancelled out by Michy Batshuayi’s own goal eight minutes from time, but Alonso struck again to finish Spurs, whose record since Wembley reopened in 2007 reads played 11, won two, lost eight.

Head coach Antonio Conte lauded his “fighters” after Chelsea extended Tottenham’s Wembley woe with a 2-1 Premier League win.

Tottenham laid siege on the Premier League champions’ goal at times, but now have just two wins in 11 attempts since Wembley reopened in 2007. And the national stadium is their home this season.

“To play against Tottenham, away, and to win is a fantastic result. It’s not easy,” Conte said.

“I want to thank my players. Every one. I saw today the fighters.

“I saw a lot of positive things in a moment that’s not easy for us with the suspensions and the injuries.

“I’m very happy when I see this type of game. I’m not speaking about football, but this spirit, this heart, this desire.

“This season we started with the first half not so good against Burnley but, in the second half, they showed me again a great spirit. We tried to change the final result and scored two goals with 10 men and nine men.

“We have to continue to consider there are great difficulties in this season, but the only way we can get through these difficulties is to work.”

With Diego Costa in exile, Eden Hazard still recovering from a broken ankle and a thin squad following sales, loans and suspensions, Conte says Chelsea showed the spirit of champions on the field.

Conte added: “We showed great desire to stay compact, not lose the balance. To show, also to be the champions. It was very important, this.”

Premier League debutant Andreas Christensen was alongside new boy Antonio Rudiger in defence in a Chelsea side deprived of the suspended Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill.

And Conte reserved particular praise for Brazil defender David Luiz, who was deployed in midfield alongside Tiemoue Bakayoko.

“It was an amazing performance from David,” the Italian added.

“He played with great experience, with great personality. I think he was a point of reference for the other players.”

Bakayoko was making his debut after signing from Monaco while nursing a knee injury.

Conte added: “Sometimes the motivation brings you to get over your physical condition.”

Matchwinner Alonso, with eight goals, has scored more than any other defender in English football since his arrival. But Conte wants more.

Conte added: “I’m not surprised. Alonso missed a lot of other chances to improve his (tally last season).

“For me, the wing-backs are the real wingers. Sometimes they must become strikers.”

It was Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino’s first home league defeat in 14 London derbies.

Tottenham completed an entire league season unbeaten at White Hart Lane last term for the first time in 52 years, including a January victory which ended Chelsea’s 13-game winning run in the league.

Conte revelled in the atmosphere and Pochettino refuses to believe Wembley was a factor in the loss. Spurs will play at the national stadium as the construction of the new White Hart Lane is concluded.

“Wembley was not the problem,” Pochettino said.

“I think the ‘Wembley effect’ is not the reason we lost the game. It doesn’t affect me. But I understand that we need to talk, everyone needs to talk.

“It’s not fair to blame Wembley. For me, Wembley is one of the best places in the world, one of the best places to play football.”

Pochettino believes fine margins resulted in the loss.

“I am disappointed because I think we deserved more. Our performance was good. We were much better than Chelsea. But they were clinical in front of goal. They shot twice and scored twice. For us, it was difficult to score.”

Top 3 Talking Points

 “How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

― William Faulkner

1. Home heartache for Spurs once again

As the rain drizzled down in North London, Tottenham’s mentally shattered players would have been yearning for the familiar smell and touch of White Hart Lane, that sanctuary which saw the club go undefeated all of last season. The club was aware of the growing apprehension and duly provided free flags for all fans to create a ‘’home’’ feel, whilst this did heighten the noise in the stadium, it wasn’t enough to stop the rut.

It was noticeable that crosses coming in were consistently failing to beat the first man, suggesting the players are so conditioned to the diameters of White Hart Lane that they still cannot time crosses on the larger Wembley pitch with accuracy yet.  Spurs did dominate large portions of the game, and the equaliser was deserved, but the manner in which Chelsea scored the winner of the counter-attack was brutal.

2. Conte distances himself from Jose comparisons

For all the talk this season of Conte’s side falling apart only months after winning the title, in the mould of the 2014/15 squad, it seems to have been forgotten that this is still a well-oiled side, and the win against Spurs was a very visceral reminder that the Blues have every chance of winning the title again this season.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen were assured in defence, while Bakoyoko showed a lot of promise and flair as he pushed forward from the midfield. Alvaro Moratta will have wished to have contributed more to the game, missing a glorious chance to head Chelsea in front early on, then continually failing to run past Spurs defence when he did have the ball. £58m worth of pressure is on his shoulders.

3. Kane’s August blues

It’s safe to say that Spurs’s consistent inability to win at Wembley has now entered that terrain of being psychological more than anything else. For Harry Kane, he is also facing another psychological battle: mainly his strange inability to score in August during every Premier League season he has taken part in. A shot rattled against the post echoed last week’s Newcastle game, yet the statistics remains the same: Kane has the summer blues.

For Spurs, this season they have shown they can still control the tempo of a game and dominate for long spells, yet they are lacking a clinical edge, and the performance against Chelsea may just push Pochettino into buying a striker this window.

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Santokie Nagulendran

Writes about football across the globe, which provides a therapeutic release from the emotional turmoil of supporting Tottenham Hotspur