Chelsea at the double as Spurs suffer title blow


Tottenham Hotspur’s title challenge suffered a severe blow with a 2-0 defeat at London rivals Chelsea.

On a night which saw Liverpool and Manchester City win to further their aspirations of winning the League title, Spurs were unable to beat Maurizio Sarri’s regimented Blues with two second half strikes proving the difference.

It was the result and performance needed for Sarri following a bizarre episode with Kepa Arrizabalaga in their Carabao Cup final defeat against Manchester City.

Both sides struck the woodwork in the first half as they went into the interval level following an end-to-end forty-five minutes.

Pedro stabbed past Hugo Lloris at the near-post to put the hosts ahead on the hour-mark, but Spurs could have levelled soon afterwards through Harry Kane, the England captain was unable to keep his effort on-target from close range though.

Kieran Trippier’s unfortunate own-goal, passing beyond Lloris from the edge-of-the-box, increased Chelsea’s lead late in the second half.

Sarri made four changes to the side that were beaten on penalties by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.

Kepa was dropped after showing defiance against his manager, Willy Caballero returned to the number one spot. Marcos Alonso returned to the squad ahead of Emerson Palmieri to form a four-man defence alongside Antonio Rüdiger, David Luiz and César Azpilicueta.

Mateo Kovačić replaced Ross Barkley in midfield, as the former Everton man was demoted to the substitute’s bench. Meanwhile, Gonzalo Higuain returned to the starting eleven ahead of Willian as Eden Hazard and Pedro retained their positions in an attacking trio.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was after a response to Saturday’s defeat at Burnley, also making four changes for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Trippier and Davinson Sanchez, both rested for the defeat at Turf Moor, came straight back into the Spurs team while Jan Vertonghen dropped out of the squad. Ben Davies also returned to the starting eleven for the first time since his injury.

Dele Alli marking of Jorginho at the reverse fixture proved a success and Pochettino has selected Erik Lamela to do a similar job at Stamford Bridge with the Englishman out through injury.

The hosts started brightly and came close to opening the scores when Higuain was given to control on the edge-of-the-box, Lloris was forced to stand and watch as the Argentinian striker’s volley struck the post and rebounded away.

Toby Alderweireld’s poor clearance from a teasing corner fell to Kovačić, but the Blues midfielder was unable to keep his shot low as he wasted from a good position.

Spurs were given a let-off when Lloris made a poor clearance that fell to a home player. The ball was passed inside to Higuain, but the striker was unable to score as his effort curled round the post.

Eventually, though, the visitors settled into the game and chances soon began to fall in their favour.

Son was involved as he charged towards the goal to cause danger for Chelsea, but Luiz produced an excellent tackle on Erik Lamela before the home side eventually eradicated the threat.

Harry Winks came close when he rifled a shot towards goal, it dipped beyond Caballero but left the crossbar rattled as the two sides failed to claim first blood in the first half of an entertaining derby affair.

Higuain thought he had opened the scoring early in the second half when he controlled unmarked in the Spurs penalty box before dinking the ball over Lloris, but the flag was raised for offside against the Argentine.

But the Blues did not have to wait long before they took the lead. Pedro drove towards goal on the right flank and, after turning Alderweireld inside the penalty area, the Spaniard squeezed a shot between Lloris’ legs at the near-post.

Son and Christian Eriksen linked up well to allow the latter to squirm into space, but Pedro ran back to defend and produced an excellent last-ditch tackle to deny the Spurs striker.

Harry Kane was met unmarked in the penalty area on 65 minutes by Davies’ cross, but Lamela’s attempt at a diving header distracted the England skipper who stabbed an effort wide.

Having slowly worked their way back into the game, a calamitous error ensured Chelsea gained maximum points.

Seconds after coming on as a substitute Olivier Giroud flicked the ball onwards; however, Trippier mis-understood his goalkeeper’s call and stroked the ball beyond his own shot-stopper and across the line to end a disappointing day at the office for Spurs.


About Author

When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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