x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Tottenham and Chelsea are forward-thinking

The Blues are powered by their youth as they change guard but inconsistent Spurs can spring a surprise.

Eden Hazard has proved to be good transfer move to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea this season.
Eden Hazard has proved to be good transfer move to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea this season.

I had my doubts about Roberto Di Matteo as a coach but he is doing fantastically so far this season.

He has changed Chelsea's style of play in the Premier and Champions League and they have carried on winning. In England, the rest are trying to hold on to their coat tails at the moment, hoping that Chelsea will drop some points.

Manchester City, the champions, are not steamrollering teams and injury-hit Manchester United have already been beaten twice, but with difficult games at Tottenham Hotspur today and against United next Sunday, Chelsea have a tough run ahead.

I have been impressed by how Di Matteo has revitalised Chelsea. He had to. They were ageing but now they look youthful.

There is no way they could retain the Champions League playing the defensive football which won it last season either, so they have started to play more attacking football. That should please their owner.

Chelsea spent serious money and bought well over the summer. Oscar - £25 million (Dh147.4m) -stood out in the Olympic football tournament for Brazil and, despite being slight, he has settled in well to the physical Premier League.

Eden Hazard (£32m) is top quality too, and the pair have knitted in immediately with Juan Mata and Frank Lampard, but while Chelsea have been fortunate with their two most expensive signings, it is still early for them.

I have seen foreign players start well and then fade badly over Christmas when they had to deal with four games in 10 days at a time when they are usually on a midseason break.

It is hard for an English player, let alone someone who is away from home. They also have to deal with the cold weather.

Oscar spent last Christmas relaxing on the beach in sunny Brazil. Twelve months on and he will be travelling to Norwich City and Everton around home games against Aston Villa and a derby against Queens Park Rangers.

Chelsea are also changing off the field. They have stood up to older players by only offering them one-year contracts extensions.

Make no mistake, this is Roman Abramovich running the club how he wants, paying the wages he wants, even if it means club legends such as Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole following Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun out of the door.

Abramovich is showing that he is not a soft touch, and I firmly expect the title race to be between Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.

That said, I think Chelsea will lose at Tottenham today. Like Chelsea, Spurs are attack-minded, like Chelsea they have the look of a new team who have come together quickly.

They have got some fine players, and I rate Andre Villas-Boas as a good young manager.

He was not given time at Chelsea but he is Spurs' future, not an older manager like Harry Redknapp who made himself available for the England job. That did him no favours at Tottenham and he was soon on his way.

Villas-Boas recently led Spurs to their first win at Old Trafford since 1989 and they barely seem to be missing Luka Modric.

They bought superbly with the midfielder Mousa Dembele, a player who has impressed me every time I have seen him play, and Jan Vertonghen, who chose Spurs over Arsenal when he left Ajax. They also beat Liverpool to Clint Dempsey, made the Emmanuel Adebayor deal permanent and signed Hugo Loris, who was man of the match for France as they drew with Spain in Madrid on Wednesday.

The holding midfielder Sandro is another player who I like, while Spurs still have Gareth Bale as their stand out star.

Tottenham will do well this season, and they have got a good chance of finishing fourth like last season and reaching the Champions League.

That is if another English team does not win the European Cup like Chelsea did.

Tottenham may have the players, but they do not have the consistency of the top three sides.

It is inconceivable that they will win the league for the first time since 1961. Why?

Tottenham don't have the spine in their squad like the better sides, they do not have the mental strength to be consistent enough, nor enough experience to win the league.

Look at what happened last season. Just as everyone began to talk of Spurs being serious title contenders in February, they could not handle it and faded badly.

Title winning teams may lose games, but they recover quickly from knocks. Tottenham won one in nine between late February and April last season.

That said, Spurs are looking good and have won their last five matches after a wobbly start to the season.

I reckon they will make it six today.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE