It was a brilliant night of cup football as Tottenham welcomed Chelsea in their new and beautiful (albeit empty) stadium. Their night began in a pensive mood, with confirmed news that star player Son Heung-min will be out with a hamstring issue for at least a couple of weeks.
The good news was that new signing Sergio Reguilon finally made his debut. Rival left-back Ben Chilwell also recovered from his niggle just in time to make this London derby.
Sports aside, the reason that Tottenham took Chelsea on tonight instead of their original opponents Leyton Orient is that Leyton failed to make it to the fixture due to several members of their staff testing positive for COVID-19.
In their previous game, Tottenham drew after an extremely harsh and controversial penalty call against them. Chelsea, on the other hand, battled themselves to a draw after being 3-0 down against West Brom away from home.
With games coming thick and fast for everyone to make up for time lost due to lockdown, teams all over the top tier of Europe are now having to play 3 games a week. That means that there were heavy changes for this Round of 16 cup tie for both sides.
Tottenham started the game with the following side:
Chelsea's team looked like this:
The Blues saw two debutants on the field tonight - English left-back Ben Chilwell and France-born Senegalese keeper Edouard Mendy, who just recently sealed his switch from Ligue 1 side Rennes.
Chelsea were coming into this fixture unbeaten in the past 4 meetings between these London rivals.
The game started at an okay-ish pace, with both teams trying to find their feet in the first 15 minutes and no real chances being created. Around the 16th minute, the first effort of the game came from Mason Mount's boot from around 25 yards, but it was quite tame and Lloris took control of it.
The very next minute saw Tanganga make a howler to give Chelsea their first real chance, as he made a mess of a clearance from Mason Mount's delivery from the left. But Hudson-Odoi's snapshot was easily handled by Lloris, much to the young Englishman's relief.
A minute later, though, the defence finally creaked and Chelsea found a way through with Timo Werner scoring after a mistake from Spurs debutant Reguilon. The Spaniard lost the ball to Azpilicueta and tried to win it back with a very poor sliding challenge, allowing the Chelsea full-back to cross the ball in the area to the German striker, who made no mistake after taking a first touch to hammer it home.
Tottenham's retaliation was almost instant as Gedson Fernandes lead a charge in the 22nd minute. He almost got the reward he deserved as he was brought down by Kurt Zouma in the box, but only a corner was awarded for his troubles and play went on. Erik Lamela was thwarted from scoring by debutant Mendy in the 35th minute.
The first half ended with Chelsea undoubtedly the stronger-looking side of the two, as they went in with a deserved lead and 71% possession against the struggling hosts.
The second half saw goalkeeper Mendy make top notch saves from Sergio Reguilon and Lamela again, but his defense was shattered around the 83rd minute. Sergio Reguilon made a dream contribution on his debut, crossing the ball with his right boot for Erik Lamela to tuck a neat finish inside the bottom right corner.
With the game now neatly poised at 1-1, the onus was on Chelsea to try and finish this without a shootout, as Tottenham arguably looked the fresher of the teams and likelier to score another one. The game was tense for the following ten minutes, but neither side made any real effort to make it 2-1, and the game went straight to penalties.
Tottenham scored all their penalties, but Mason Mount failed to keep his attempt on target as it ended 5-4 in favour of the home side. Neither keeper was even close to saving a penalty.
Here are the talking points from Tottenham's outstanding cup victory over Chelsea:
#1 Eric Dier's endurance
Tottenham's brutish Englishman twice left the field of play tonight in order to deal with massive dehydration issues, as he played his second consecutive game in 2 days.
Footballers, as people tend to often forget, are human beings too. Just because they're being paid exorbitant sums by their clubs doesn't mean we can't cut them some slack every once in a while, because just like us, they get tired too. They put their bodies through hell playing almost 60 games every year at the highest level.
Eric Dier was a rock for the home side tonight against Chelsea. Despite his clearly apparent fatigue, his insistence to go on and him scoring a penalty in the shootout vindicated the decision to keep him on by Mourinho.
#2 Promising debutants from both teams
Chelsea's downfall last season was mainly down to the fact that they never replaced Thibaut Courtois adequately, and their defense couldn't keep a clean sheet against some of the worst attacking outfits in the country. Chelsea let goals in at an almost comical rate last season, and every shot from outside the box looked certain to go in if it was on target, largely due to Kepa and his habit of letting those by.
His newly-signed replacement Edouard Mendy looked every bit the keeper Chelsea have been crying out for. Even in his first game, he could be seen yelling at his defenders to get in position when Tottenham had the ball, and he made a few really acrobatic saves to keep the scoreline unchanged.
Tottenham debutant Sergio Reguilon comes in at a problem position for Spurs at a really excellent price. He made his debut (finally!) for the club tonight, and it looked like he had gotten off to a nightmare start as it was his poor giveaway and slide tackle that allowed Azpilicueta to pounce and Werner to score.
The left-back's spirit and perseverance were there for all to see, though, as he covered every blade of grass on the pitch in order to make amends. Finally, in the 83rd minute, Reguilon crossed the ball in with his weak foot to Erik Lamela, who made no mistake and equalised before it eventually went to penalties.
Both signings made a huge impact on proceedings tonight, and it will be interesting to see how things pan out for both of them as the season progresses.