Dembele: Spurs showed a maturity which was lacking in previous clashes with Chelsea
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Mousa Dembele says Tottenham showed a maturity in Wednesday’s victory over Chelsea which was lacking in their previous two clashes with the Blues.
Spurs threw away a 2-0 half-time lead at Stamford Bridge last May, getting drawn into a ill-tempered and ill-disciplined derby battle and picking up nine yellow cards before ending up with a draw that finished their title bid.
History then repeated itself in west London in early November. Again, Mauricio Pochettino’s side took the lead during an impressive first-half display before shipping two goals, this time losing 2-1.
It was a different story at White Hart Lane this week, however. Dele Alli put Tottenham 2-0 up after scoring either side of half-time, and this time the Lilywhites kept their rivals firmly at bay, ending the leaders’ 13-match winning run and moving within seven points of them.
“We know it was very important for us. I think everybody’s happy for that win because otherwise it would have been very difficult to catch them,” said Dembele.
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“We’re very happy, I think we played well. In the past we always played well against Chelsea and didn’t always have the luck to win but I’m happy we did it.
“We know how they play, we know they have a lot of quality as well. I think we played very well last time as well. But this time when we went in front we didn’t panic, we kept on playing and we wanted to score the second one.
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“That was very important and I think it was the difference between this and the previous times we played them.
“Last time, and last season as well, we scored and then we changed our game and tried to play differently. We panicked more and this time I think we played very adult, we were relaxed.
“In the past we’ve always played well against them but we didn’t win, so I’m happy we’ve changed something, maybe in our mentality, in our thinking.
“Are we more mature now? Of course, we’ve now had another year together. Players like Dele have been here one year more and all the team has played together for one year more, and with the manager as well.”
Asked if Spurs can catch Chelsea, Dembele said: “I never say things like that and I’m not just looking to them because I know with the quality we have we can do whatever we want to.
“Last year as well we proved that we can do something, and this year, who knows? We’re playing very well and if we can keep this confidence we can have a good run hopefully, and then anything’s possible of course.”
Dembele has had a stop-start season on a personal level. He missed the first four games of the campaign due to a domestic ban carried over from Spurs’ tempestuous draw at Chelsea last May, and he has since been in and out of the team because of a recurring foot injury.
Those factors have made it difficult for the Belgian to get a consistent run in the side and maintain his fitness, but he put in an impressive performance against Chelsea.
“I had some small things and it began already with the suspension,” he said. “But after all we’re playing well as a team and I’ve been involved as well so I’m happy, and I feel good.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs