MAYBE Tottenham really can give others something to worry about this season – and that is not just when opposing managers face hothead Antonio Conte in the dugout.
The Italian, who was sent off for squaring up to Thomas Tuchel right in crazy scenes right at the death, said in pre-season that he wanted his heavily-bolstered Spurs to make other sides “not scared, but a bit worried” this term.
Antonio Conte’s Spurs lost to Chelsea three times in January but drew on SundayCredit: Getty
And with the way they fought back here on a ground where Tottenham have known nothing but misery, perhaps they just might.
Spurs had won just once at Stamford Bridge in 32 years and were beaten three times against the Blues under Conte in January without scoring a goal.
Their history suggested they would wilt under the pressure after going 1-0 down to Kalidou Koulibaly’s stunner.
Most definitely after Reece James put the hosts back in from late on in the game.
But they appear to be made of sterner stuff now and within seconds of injury time to go, Harry Kane nicked an unlikely point.
That sparked the new battle of the Bridge – six years on from the original 2-2 between these two sides in the year that Leicester won the title – as Conte and Tuchel lost their rag with each other and were both dismissed.
Yet when tempers have cooled off, it is the Spurs boss who will be most happy after seeing his side develop a backbone that has been lacking in previous years.
And especially against Chelsea, whom he has most certainly not written off this season unlike so many other people in football.
Every time the ex-Blues boss was asked about bridging the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City this summer, he has been at pains to remind reporters not to forget about Chelsea.
“I don’t understand why”, was his response in the pre-match press conference when asked why so many pundits seem to be overlooking Tuchel’s side.
He was proved right to make that point as Chelsea, for all their squad churn, dominated the first half and could have been further ahead by the break.
Spurs looked to be shrinking into their usual submissive selves in this stadium.
But Conte, now armed with a much stronger squad, used it to full effect after the break.
In came Richarlison, the £60million buy from Everton whose s***house tendencies were looked on favourably by Conte in his bid to make Spurs a little less nice.
The Brazilian had been suspended for the win over Southampton last week for lobbing a flare back into the Goodison Park crowd after scoring the winner for Everton against Chelsea last season.
“Richy”, as Conte calls him, went up top with Kane as Conte surprisingly switched his favoured 3-4-3 into more of a 4-4-2 and put himself about.
The extra impetus helped lead to the leveller from Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg – with Richarlison deemed not to have interfered with play despite being in an offside position as the Dane fired in from outside the box.
Conte then introduced fellow new-boys Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perisic, who had been using all this years of experience to advise Ryan Sessegnon during the first-half drinks break.
James had put Chelsea back ahead but right at the death, it was Perisic’s corner which was flicked in by Kane and off James, sparking the wild scenes at the end.
That depth from the bench is what Spurs have been so sorely lacking in recent years. It proved pivotal here and will surely be across this season as they take the fight to City and Liverpool.
Though the biggest difference to seaons gone by remains the fact that proven winner Conte is in the dugout – even if he will be banned from doing so against Wolves next week.
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