Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham - Bragging rights in West London AGAIN.
Chelsea took on Tottenham on Saturday evening with the chance to extend their advantage at the to...
Chelsea took on Tottenham on Saturday evening with the chance to extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea delivered yet another three points to sit seven clear of Liverpool and Arsenal and nine ahead of Man City.
Jose Mourinho surprised me with his team selection for this one. I had asked in the week if Oscar should be starting based on his recent performances.
I had stated that Andre Schurrle couldn't be dropped to the bench after his hat-trick at Fulham so I thought that Willian would be selected to start ahead of his fellow Brazilian. No one expected BOTH Brazilians to be named on the bench as Mourinho favoured a 4-3-3 formation instead!
Tottenham's team sheet was a surprise with both Naughton and Walker named to start down the right hand side in what seemed like an obvious attempt to nullify the threat of Eden Hazard. Paulinho and Andros Townsend were named on bench as Aaron Lennon started behind Adebayor.
Chelsea could and should have been a goal up after just four minutes of the game. Andre Schurrle knocked the ball into the feet of Eto'o and Hazard had made a run on the shoulder of the last defender and was found by Eto'o. Lloris came flying off his line to win the ball and Hazard knocked the ball around him but then fired high and wide when it seemed easier to score.
After that, the game fell into a routine that remained as a constant for the rest of the first half. Tottenham were given time on the ball in their own half and on half way as Chelsea dropped into their defensive positions. Chelsea looked to play on the counter attack as Tottenham looked to pass and probe their way forward. if anything both sides just cancelled each other out.
I'm not sure if it was because Chelsea were in a 4-3-3 formation of if because Tottenham were playing a high defensive line but the game seemed compact in midfield and any forays forward were easily mopped up but both sets of defences.
Whenever either of us managed to push forward and win a set piece albeit a free kick in a dangerous area or a corner, the delivery wasn't good enough.
Chelsea had the potential to play someone in behind all afternoon long if they managed to get themselves into a decent opportunity but it just never happened in the first half.
At half time Jose made a change and withdrew Frank Lampard and replaced him with Oscar and the team reverted back into their tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 formation. With that, we looked a different side.
Chelsea had a better tempo to their game and pressed forward with far more purpose. The game had become stretched and where Adebayor had managed to pick up possession deep or into space in the first half, he became a bystander in the game.
Many people have spoken of the goals and have pointed out the errors Tottenham made but I like to focus on the positives of our play instead.
For the first goal, Andre Schurrle, who didn't have his best game at all, still had a willingness to work hard to close down Vertonghen and that led to the slip from the Belgian. Only he can tell us why he decided to play the back pass he did, but Samuel Eto'o was onto the ball like a flash and kept his head, remained calm and slotted the ball under Lloris into the corner to make it 1-0.
The second goal we cannot underestimate JT's role in the build up. Stepping forward to break up a Tottenham attack, he played a fantastic first time pass to Eden Hazard who had been left unmarked down the left hand side. Hazard, onto it like a flash, looked up and spotted Eto'o again making a run ahead of Kaboul in the box, played it square to him and under a "challenge" by Kaboul, Eto'o was down in the box and the penalty given with Kaboul sent off. I will admit to finding the sending off harsh and that the penalty was soft.
Eden Hazard remained calm and slotted the ball past Lloris to make it 2-0 and with an extra man advantage the game was over.
The game pretty much became a procession for the next twenty minutes or so as Chelsea looked comfortable at the back and dominated the ball. Tottenham were concentrating on damage limitation.
That all changed with two minutes to go as Chelsea broke down Tottenham's left hand side with a fabulous ball from Hazard to Oscar and the Brazilian was away. Oscar wide right spotted Demba Ba (on for Eto'o) in the middle and played a ball across the box but straight towards Sandro.
Now for the life of me, I have seen this incident around twenty times and cannot understand what Sandro was trying to do. He got himself all caught up and fell over in the box. The ball makes a connection with his heels as he falls over, onto his hand and into the path of Demba Ba who calmly, slots the ball under Lloris to make it 3-0.
Finally for our fourth goal of the game and Ba's second in as many minutes, Tottenham commit suicide once again. A ball is played back to Lloris who does not manage to get real distance on his clearance as Demba Ba closes him down. For some reason, Walker with no one around him decides to head the ball back to his keeper from 35 yards away and Ba is onto the ball like a flash.
As Ba and Lloris come together, Ba wins the challenge and the ball and slots the ball into an empty net to make it 4-0 as Tim Sherwood looks dejected on the bench.
It was a massive win for us and another statement from Mourinho's men. More questions are asked of the title as we now sit seven clear of both Arsenal and Liverpool (who have a game in hand) and nine clear of Man City who have three games in hand.
It's simple says Mourinho, if City win all of their games in hand they are top on goal difference and we are second. He is right but we all hope that it's not that simple for Pellegrini's men.
Chelsea have the points on the board and at this stage of the season that's key. We have nine games to go and are on a fantastic run. We just need to keep it going.
As for Tottenham looking from the outside in? Mourinho got it spot on. Tottenham are fantastic in possession but have no cutting edge. Chelsea were able to deal with their threat all day long.
However, Tim Sherwood takes all the headlines for his post match comments. I found them to be refreshing, honest and forthright and exactly what the fans would want to hear. There is no sugar coating or excuses from him, just a man dejected and hurt by the performance of some of his players. Sherwood showed more passion in that five minutes than most for the whole game.
Chelsea march on and travel to Villa next Saturday evening. Let's sit and wait to see what happens to City at the Nou Camp on Wednesday after they have been beaten by Wigan in the FA Cup yesterday.
I disagree with Jose Mourinho about the games in hand. We have played ours and have the points on the board and there is no where else I would rather be!
Tottenham's awful record at Stamford Bridge continues as Chelsea under Mourinho continue their momentum. Could this result prove to be decisive in the coming weeks?
Only time will tell!