Game in a sentence
Chelsea show their mettle, fighting off a second half surge from Spurs thanks to another superb performance from Juan Mata.
- AVB’s first game against his former club was the buzz heading into this London Derby. The most important storyline, however, was the absence of Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembélé from the Spurs lineup. Clint Dempsey took over for Bale on the left while Gylfi Sigurdsson replaced Dembélé in the middle. Tactically the move didn’t work – Dempsey looked ragged from a busy week of travel. In the first half the Spurs midfield was a blackhole.
- Gary Cahill opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a wonderful volley past Brad Friedel. William Gallas’ failure (this wasn’t a one time thing) to adequately clear the ball gave Cahill his chance. John who? Meanwhile Hugo Lloris did his best Josh Romney impression on the bench.
- Aaron Lennon was a non-factor early. Spurs mounted their first real threat on the Chelsea goal in the latter stages of the half after swapping Dempsey and Sigurdsson, though playing through Lennon was the biggest contributor to the momentum shift. Unfortunately the three of them and Jermain Defoe were on an island. Tottenham’s back six were incredibly poor throughout.
- AVB’s halftime speech/tirade must’ve worked as his squad was a different team in the second half. Gallas atoned for his early mistake with the equalizer two minutes into the final period. A slight hand ball? Maybe, but it counted. The defender’s goal was the first goal conceded by Chelsea in the second half this year.
- Soon after Defoe scored his 200th Premier League goal (480 appearances) to put Tottenham ahead. Again, it was Lennon leading the build up. Full credit also goes to Defoe for displaying excellent instincts – a poacher of the highest class.
- The narrative is written. AVB galvanizes the home side and defeats some old demons. Sandro had managed to finally shut down the dangerous combo of Hazard and Oscar. With 25 minutes to play Juan Mata wrote his own story. Chelsea are the team to beat in England.
- Mata capitalized on another poor clearance from Gallas to level the game at twos. Three minutes later the Spaniard put the Blues head after some deft passing from Mikel, Hazard and Mata. Is JM the best player in the league right now? An argument can be made for Santi Cazorla, but I believe Mata is the early frontrunner.
- Spurs had chances late. Sigurdsson, who was wasteful all day, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kyle Walker each had opportunities to salvage a point, but were left wanting. To add insult to injury Daniel Sturridge – a player given a chance to perform last season under AVB – sealed the game in the dying moments.
- And so Spurs 20 game derby unbeaten streak at White Heart Lane ends with a thud. The absence of Dembélé and Bale cannot be overstated – they were dearly missed. Meanwhile Chelsea make another statement away from Stamford Bridge. There are holes defensively, but the talent up front is unmatched. With the contenders struggling at the back in general, goals are the currency. Clearly, Chelsea can score.
1. Juan Mata
2. Aaron Lennon
3. John Obi Mikel