Despite their unbeaten streak coming to an agonizing end with a 4-1 home loss to rivals Chelsea on Monday night, Tottenham’s players were proud of their resilient performance and the response of their supporters.
After Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were sent off just before halftime in one of the most chaotic and contentious Premier League games ever, which also featured five goals that were disallowed, nine-man Spurs ultimately lost to Nicolas Jackson’s late hat-trick.
After Cole Palmer’s penalty cancelled out Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected goal, James Maddison and Micky van de Ven were also forced off with injuries, the latter with a rather significant hamstring issue. This happened at the beginning of the first half’s stoppage time, which lasted 12 minutes.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Spurs responded, “I was in the battle, so it’s easier for you guys to have a clear vision,” when asked to sum up the evening by Standard Sport.Hear me out: I believe we flew down flying high. We put our all into it. We gave our hearts away, but the outcome hurts so much.
Spurs’ nine men were ultimately broken by Jackson’s goal in the 94th minute, which put Chelsea ahead 3-1. However, Eric Dier’s fantastic equalizer was disallowed for a small offside, and Rodrigo Bentancur and Heung-min Son both squandered terrific opportunities to tie the game at 2-2.
In a moment that left an impression on Kulusevski, the home crowd responded to Chelsea’s third goal with a standing ovation for their team instead of pouring out of the stadium. To be honest, the Swede told Standard Sport, “It was unbelievable.” There are some things that transcend life, football, and victories. I felt incredibly proud of the fans and the occasion. I felt appreciative, and it inspires me to return the favor.
“It was a little bit of bad luck [at 2-1] honestly with the Dier goal, the chances of Bentancur and Sonny. We had the chances, but it didn’t work out. We did fight, at least. You cannot do more than that.
“It has to give us fuel. We lost the game, we hate to lose, it was the first of the season, but we have to make sure this doesn’t happen again and we play XI versus XI, because then [we are] much harder to beat.
“We were proud, absolutely. We were very, very angry, but the coach was very proud and the players also.
“You cannot ask for more than this. We played with two guys off and we still competed at a high level. We created a lot of chances and did good, honestly.”
Centre-half Romero is expected to be banned for the next three matches, ruling him out of the games against Wolves, Aston Villa and Manchester City, while his defensive partner Van de Ven is potentially facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after appearing to pop his hamstring.
Maddison was also substituted with an ankle injury, but had wanted to continue.
In another blow, forward Richarlison also revealed he will undergo surgery on his pelvis “soon”.
Dier and Hojbjerg finished the game at centre-half, and 18-year-old Ashley Phillips, who is yet to play for Spurs, could now be thrust into action.
“[Tuesday] we have a day off, and when we see each other on Wednesday we’ll gather the pieces and the focus and concentrate on the next game,” said Hojbjerg. “Everyone has to show their availability and show they are prepared to do what it takes. The result hurts a lot, but we have to keep going.”
Kulusevski added: “The players that came in were amazing. We train really, really hard and everybody is ready. You saw Eric Dier, he came in, did his first appearance and was unbelievable, so the guys are ready.”