LONDON, Aug 21: Any doubts Antonio Conte had about his Chelsea players were dispelled with a victory over Tottenham that lifted the gloom surrounding the champions.
With a 2-1 victory on Sunday secured through Marcos Alonso’s double, the Premier League champions are finally up and running after a tough couple of weeks.
Defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium was followed by a surprise capitulation to Burnley as Chelsea made a losing start to its league title defense. Back at Wembley — Tottenham’s home for the season while White Hart Lane is being redeveloped — Chelsea players were smiling again.
“I want to thank my players,” Conte said. “They won. They showed me great desire, great spirit, great willingness to fight. I saw today the fighters.”
Wembley wasn’t the only ground staging a Premier League game for the first time on Sunday. Huddersfield’s Kirklees Stadium is now a destination in soccer’s richest league, and its occupant has opened its first-ever Premier League campaign with two wins out of two.
Huddersfield’s victory at Crystal Palace last weekend was followed by a 1-0 victory over fellow promoted side Newcastle on Sunday. Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion are the only other teams to open with two wins. The second round will be completed on Monday by a meeting of Everton and Manchester City, who both triumphed last week.
TOTTENHAM’S WEMBLEY WOES
It could be a long, grueling season away from White Hart Lane for Tottenham unless the Wembley jinx ends. In 11 matches at the national stadium since it was rebuilt in 2007, Tottenham has only won twice.
And it’s now eight losses.
Tottenham fell behind in the 24th minute when Alonso curled a free kick past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Although Chelsea gifted Tottenham an equalizer in the 82nd, when Michy Batshuayi headed into his own net after three minutes on the pitch, the visitors still had time to grab a winner.
Inside six minutes Alonso was on target again, with a shot squirming under Lloris.
“Wembley is not the reason we lost the game,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “I think the team played really, really well and it’s not fair to blame Wembley because for me Wembley is one of the best places in the world, if not the best place in the world to play football.”
It is two wins out of two and two clean sheets for a Huddersfield team playing in the top flight for the first time since 1972 — two decades before the inception of the Premier League.
Aaron Mooy secured the victory over Newcastle with a strike five minutes into the second half.
“I don’t have to pinch myself but I didn’t expect it,” Huddersfield manager David Wagner said. “We only wanted to be brave in every single game, to search for our chance, and I think we’ve done it so far.”-AP