Last-minute injury cost Mousa Dembele MOTM award vs Chelsea

Tottenham’s defeat to a weakened Chelsea side on Sunday raised age-old concerns of Spurs’ Wembley curse and whether they have the mindset to consistently beat top-quality opposition. But in truth, the Lilywhites were horrendously unlucky against the west Londoners.

That may seem a somewhat apologetic analysis – history rarely saves a place in the annals for unlucky sides – but it’s undoubtedly true; Chelsea scored with their only shots on target in a match Spurs largely controlled, finishing up with 67% possession.

Furthermore, Marcos Alonso’s winner probably wouldn’t have happened if Mousa Dembele hadn’t picked up an injury just moments before – although Hugo Lloris certainly should have done better in shutting out a shot at his near post.

A last-ditch challenge in the penalty area from the Belgian prevented a likely Chelsea goal but left him gingerly leaping. He couldn’t move up with the rest of the defensive line, which allowed Alonso the space to run into without being offside, and then couldn’t close down the Spaniard as he rifled a shot underneath the Tottenham No.1.

On another day – or for that matter, at any other point in the match – Alonso wouldn’t have found the space to make his run or get the shot away. In many ways, that typifies Sunday’s game because, much like Tottenham, Dembele was dominant in all other departments. In fact, without Alonso’s late goal, he probably would have claimed the Man of the Match award.

The Belgium international finished the match with five tackles, two interceptions and four successful dribbles to his name, whilst also completing a whopping 92% of his passes. It was a midfield performance that secured Tottenham’s control over the match and particularly showed up David Luiz, who looked cumbersome in comparison having been moved up from the back.

For both Tottenham and Dembele, Sunday’s result could and probably should have ended very differently.