SAMI MOKBEL: The London derby brought an eruption of drama, anarchy and chaos… part two of the Battle of the Bridge was EXACTLY what the English game is all about
Chaos, anarchy and pandemonium. For many, the tempestuous scenes that erupted during this pulsating London derby were probably all very unpalatable.
If that is what you think then, please, give your head a wobble. Because this was tremendous, beautiful and thrilling.
Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte were sent off for clashing on the touchline after full-time
Tuchel will likely land himself in further trouble after appearing to accuse referee Anthony Taylor of bias against his team, so much so that supporters have started an online petition to ensure the official is banned from taking charge of Chelsea games.
Both managers could also face hefty FA fines for misconduct, although disciplinary chiefs will await Taylor’s report before issuing any extra punishment.
They will also likely face criticism from the holier than thou fraternity who believe football should be whiter than white. What rubbish.
Because what transpired in west London yesterday was football in its purist form — passion, aggression, pain, joy and just about everything in between.
Of course, there is always a line that should not be crossed and Tuchel and Conte overstepped the mark.
Reece James’ 77th-minute strike brought an eruption amongst Blues fans at Stamford Bridge
But for match-going supporters the fury and intensity that nearly saw the managers come to blows twice during the latest Battle of the Bridge — remember the 2016 version when Chelsea denied Spurs in a brutal 2-2 draw that gave the title to Leicester? — is what English football is all about. Or at least should be.
Neither manager was willing to give an inch, neither considered backing down. Exactly the way it should be.
‘Look me in the eye,’ roared Tuchel in Conte’s face at the full-time whistle.
The German, with a vice-like grip on the Italian’s hand in the most pointless full-time handshake ever, believed his opponent was showing him disrespect.
‘I thought when we shake hands you look in each other’s eyes, but he had a different opinion. It was not necessary but a lot of things were not necessary,’ said Tuchel.
But Harry Kane’s 96th-minute equaliser ignited a fiery post-match clash on the touchline
Perhaps he has a point, but Conte made it clear he felt his opposite number was the aggressor during their full-time clash.
Maybe Tuchel was still fuming at the way Conte charged towards him to celebrate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stroking home Tottenham’s equaliser in the 68th minute, actions that sparked the first melee.
Equally, the manner in which Tuchel sped past Conte and his dugout to celebrate Reece James’ strike in the 77th minute would not have looked out of place in the 100m at the recent Commonwealth Games.
‘In the middle of it I thought I should not do this but sometimes a match gets you totally, this match sucked me in,’ added the Chelsea boss.
It does not take much for Conte to bite as he is the epitome of a fiery Italian.
So when Harry Kane grabbed a 96th minute equaliser, cue a furious and frenzied reaction from Conte that was always destined to spark a furious response from Tuchel and the opposing bench.
There was no way either manager was going to let the events of a crazy 45-minute slide without reacting. And when it kicked off it was ugly, but beautiful in equal measure.
Mason Mount and Eric Dier were involved in many hostile challenges throughout the derby
Ok, neither manager covered themselves in glory. Yes, they lost control, their cool and their marbles. But what is wrong with that?
Football is an emotionally-charged sport and this was an emotionally-charged moment.
We should embrace moments like this, not chastise those involved, particularly when no punches were thrown.
Because it was natural — two managers fighting for their teams and for themselves.
So what happens next? Well, hopefully this is the start of another infamous Premier League managerial rivalry.
Both managers were at pains to play the incident down in their post match press conferences
Conte versus Tuchel? Let’s hope so because everyone watching was transfixed and will want more.
Both managers were at pains to play the incident down in their post-match press conferences. By that point tempers had cooled considerably and the dust had settled.
‘I think it is not so important. The most important thing is always football and to speak about the game,’ said Conte.
Tuchel’s post-match remarks were in a similar vain. Entirely understandable, of course.
But Antonio and Thomas, you are not kidding anyone.
Chelsea visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the return fixture on February 25.
We are all ready for round two — and, of course, all eyes will be on that handshake.