Jose Mourinho knows better than most the value of grinding out points in away games against direct rivals so while his reaction to his Tottenham Hotspur side’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday was subdued, inside he would have been delighted.
Spurs did not have an attempt on target in the second half at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League derby, but they were disciplined and tough to break down as they claimed a point from a fixture that has so often been unkind to them.
While fans may question the entertainment value, and the fact Gareth Bale was left on the bench, the draw was enough to put Tottenham back into top spot on goal difference above champions Liverpool, with Chelsea two points behind in third.
“The one thing I take from the game is that a draw in here normally is a positive result,” said Mourinho, whose side are unbeaten in the league since the opening-day defeat by Everton and have kept three successive clean sheets.
“To stay top of the league with that result is also a positive thing. The best thing I take from the game is that the dressing room is not happy, we are not happy. That for me is fantastic, it’s a complete change of mentality.
“We didn’t have many chances but how many did they have? Nobody gambled,” he added.
Tottenham looked more threatening in the first half as they played on the counter-attack, but Chelsea dominated the ball after the break, without ever really opening up the visitors.
Mourinho, who won three league titles in two stints at Chelsea, has vowed to turn Spurs into winners, injecting more pragmatism into a team that threatened to win trophies under predecessor Mauricio Pochettino but never delivered any.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said the Portuguese coach would have been delighted with the way his side earned their point, having lost both league games to Chelsea last season.
“I imagine Jose said at halftime, ‘Let’s get a point by hook or by crook'” Redknapp said. “They beat Manchester City last week, now they get a point at a vibrant Chelsea side. It’s not pretty but he is trying to turn this Spurs team into winners.”
In his post-match news conference Mourinho downplayed Tottenham’s chances of landing a first league title since 1961.
“We’re not even in the (title) race so we’re not a horse. We’re a pony,” he said, although few will be fooled.
His opposite number Frank Lampard said he was delighted with the way his teame had coped with Tottenham’s counter-attacking threat, even if he was disappointed they had not claimed the win that would have sent them to the top of the table.
“I thought we dominated big parts of the game. We almost gifted them a goal. It’s hard to break down when Spurs defend with the low block,” he said. “We had to make sure we didn’t get caught on the counter, and I thought that part was brilliant.”
Lampard says Chelsea lacked a bit of magic in Spurs draw
Frank Lampard said his Chelsea side lacked a bit of “magic” to break down a disciplined Tottenham Hotspur side as they missed the chance to leapfrog their fierce rivals and move to the top of the Premier League on Sunday.
Chelsea had 60% of the possession and 13 goal attempts to Tottenham’s three but could find no way through as Jose Mourinho’s side claimed the point that put them back on top of the table, above Liverpool on goal difference.
Timo Werner had a goal ruled out for offside early on and Mason Mount forced a fine save from Hugo Lloris in the second half but the game ended in stalemate.Lampard was not to downbeat though, praising his side for not getting sucked into Tottenham’s counter-attacking trap.
“I thought we dominated big parts of the game. Everything that we talked of before the game in terms of nullifying their counter attacking threat we did really well, so that part off the game was fantastic,” Lampard, who enjoyed home and away wins over his old manager Mourinho last season, said.
“It is difficult to create against Tottenham when they have a low block, the whole team defending centrally.
“Sometimes you rely on a bit of magic. I am sort of balanced after the game. Big parts were great, hence the clean sheet. But a game we maybe should have won.”
Mourinho rather comically described his side as a “pony” rather than a horse in the title race after — suggesting his side were not contenders despite being top.
Asked for his opinion, Lampard said: “It’s Jose’s call to say it as he sees it from his end, but from the outside they are top of the league, it’s very close at the top,” he said.
“If we’re contenders then they have to be contenders. If you’ve got Harry Kane and Son (Heung-min) in your team — Son has got nine goals, Harry’s got seven, they keep clean sheets well because of the organisation of their team — they would expect to be in the race.
“They have invested heavily — they’ve got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench, Dele Alli’s not here. There is a strong squad there. So I think we are all competing, but Jose can say can say it as he sees it.”
The draw left Chelsea in third spot with 19 points, two behind Tottenham and Liverpool.
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