Son Heung-min’s unbeaten Tottenham suffered their first defeat in their opening 11 games as a combination of sending-offs and injuries took their toll.
Tottenham suffered a 1-4 reverse against Chelsea in the 11th round of the 2023-2024 English Professional Soccer Premier League (EPL) on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England. With two men sent off and two starters out with injuries, they were unable to defend an early goal from Dejan Kulusebski. They were unbeaten in their opening 10 games, winning eight and drawing two, but they had no answer for being outnumbered.
A win would have seen them leapfrog Manchester City (27 points) at the top of the table, but Spurs remained in second place with eight wins, two draws and one loss (26 points).
They played with nine men to Chelsea’s 11 as Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were sent off. Son Heung-min, who was looking for his third consecutive goal, played the full 90 minutes but focused on pressing forward.
The game started well for Tottenham. Spurs started brightly with a goal from Kluczewski in the sixth minute, and in the 13th minute, Son rattled the net with a non-stop shot from a Brennan Johnson pass. However, the assistant referee raised his flag, and after video assistant referee (VAR) review, he was ruled offside. The penetrating Son and the Chelsea defender were on the same line, but the referee decided that Son was ahead of him by a small margin.
Then the tide turned. Romero was shown a red card in the 33rd minute after VAR showed a rough play in which he stepped on an opponent’s ankle while defending. Chelsea’s Cole Palmer converted the penalty for a foul inside the penalty box to level the game.
A series of key players then left the field with injuries. Key central defender Van der Penn pulled a hamstring while sprinting to clear a counter-attack, while attacking nucleus James Maddison felt discomfort in his ankle. The Tottenham bench made two first-half substitutions, one for Hojbjerg. Emerson and Royal.
To make matters worse, early in the second half at 1-1, Udoh was sent off for accumulating bookings. The loss of Maddison and Van der Vaart to injury was also painful, as they were forced to play with nine men.
Tottenham withstood Chelsea’s onslaught until midway through the second half, with goalkeeper Vicario making some brilliant saves, but eventually conceded a late goal to Nicola Jackson in the 30th minute. Two more goals from Jackson in stoppage time sealed the deal.
After suffering their first defeat of the season, Tottenham faced a crisis. Sending-offs and injuries would continue to ravage the team. Immediately, Romero is suspended for three games for his direct challenge and Udogie is suspended for one game for accumulating cautions. Van der Vaan is expected to be out for several weeks with a hamstring injury, and Maddison’s status is unclear. With four key players immediately out for the next game, the loss of Maddison, van der Vaart, and Romero, who are key to the attack, is devastating.
Spurs now face Wolverhampton on Nov. 11, Aston Villa on Nov. 26, and Man City on Nov. 4. It will be interesting to see how Tottenham, who have been winning since the start of the season, handle this challenge. 캡틴토토