Chelsea 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Scorers: Eto’o, Hazard (pen), Ba (2)
Team: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Fryers), Kaboul, Vertonghen; Bentaleb, Sandro; Walker, Lennon, Sigurdsson (Paulinho); Adebayor Subs: (unused) Friedel, Chadli, Townsend, Kane, Soldado
Tim Sherwood’s team for the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge saw the return of Younes Kaboul in central defence with Jan Vertonghen moving to left back in place of Zeki Fryers. Kyle Walker returned on the right of midfield with Kyle Naughton retaining his place at right back. Gylfi Sigurdsson played on left midfield with Sandro and Nabil Bentaleb taking the holding role in midfield. Aaron Lennon starteded in central midfeild behind Emmanuel Adebayor as the lone striker. Paulinho, Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado took their place among the substitutes.
After an uncertain opening few minutes when Tottenham could have been two down, Spurs came into the game which was scoreless after the first 45 minutes. In those opening four minutes, Spurs could have been the architect’s of their own downfall as first Michael Dawson and then Kaboul made defensive errors to let Chelsea through on goal.
In the opening 30 seconds Dawson gave the ball away and then missed a through ball which allowed Eto’o to run in on goal but he was given off-side as Hugo Lloris challenged on the edge of the area. As Chelsea looked to exploit the space behind the back four, Kaboul failed to cut out a pass allowing Hazard to get behind the defence, past Lloris but he then lifted the ball over the bar.
After those nervy early minutes, Spurs settled into the game and using Walker’s pace got forward and came more into the game. After 13 minutes a ball played forward was headed on by Adebayor for Bentaleb to take into the area but his shot went across goal and wide. By this point Spurs had recovered their composure and had the greater percentage of possession although it was Chelsea who looked the more threatening.
A cross on 22 minutes from Vertonghen was cleared poorly by the home side and fell to Sandro on the edge of the area. His powerful first time volley was saved low at his near post by Cech. From the corner the ball fell to Kaboul but he was unable to react.
Chelsea threatened midway through the half with a header by Matic from a free-kick and when Eto’o picked up a loose back pass, he was pushed wide and shot past the post. After half an hour a break by Walker ended with a poor pass for Vertonghen. Five minutes later Walker won possession in midfield and took the ball to the bye-line but his low cross was gathered safely at his near post by the goalkeeper.
Spurs worked hard to defend and harry Chelsea as they broke from defence but the home side were patient and willing to wait to win possession from Spurs and then counter-attack quickly.
The second half started in a similar fashion but with a greater tempo to the game as both teams got forward on goal. A cross from the right went over the head of Eto’o but in response a cross by Lennnon was headed by Terry to Walker at the back post and cleared for a corner. From the corner Kaboul got a good header in but it went straight into the hands of Cech. Twice in a minute Chelsea threatened but Lloris was out quickly and Schurrle shot past.
Kaboul put in a good clearance as he covered when Eto’o played the ball in for Schurrli but in the 55th minute a slip by Vertonghen gifted Chelsea the opening goal. With time to clear he slipped but then in trying to recover played the ball back towards his own goal where Eto’o reacted quickest to reach the loose ball and put it past Lloris.
The game was over three minutes later when Kaboul challenged Eto’o in the area for a cross as Chelsea again broke quickly into the ara. The striker went down and the referee awarded a harsh penalty, making the situation worse by showing the defender a red card. Hazard scored the penalty, Lloris going the wrong way.
Damage limitation was again the order of the day for the last half an hour. Paulinho replaced Sigurdsson and when Dawson went off injured Zeki Fryers came on. Tottenham contained Chelsea with Lloris cutting out dangerous crosses into the area. Spurs only purposeful forward movement was a break by Lennon but he pulled his cross behind Adebayor.
With three minutes to play, Spurs again caused their own downfall when Sandro slipped in the area as he went to clear a cross allowing substitute Demba Ba to score the third. 76 seconds later a poor header by Walker towards Lloris was won by Ba in a challenge on the goalkeeper and he put the ball into an empty net to complete another miserable game for Spurs at Stamford Bridge.
Mistakes cost Spurs dearly in a game where, after a difficult start, they had held their own for almost an hour. Their situation was not helped by a refereeing decision which for the third time this season has seen them reduced to 10-men against a team above them. The late mistakes just made it worse and with a lengthening injury list, especially in defence, it leaves Tim Sherwood with additional problwems to resolve.