Regardless of the table, fans know Chelsea is a big game for Tottenham Hotspur, and Spurs showed us what that means in a 2-0 triumph over the Blues.
Tottenham Hotspur has a definitive style under Antonio Conte, based on a structured defense and an opportunistic attack. However, Spurs’ commitment to the style can wane depending on the opposition. Against Manchester City and West Ham, we saw the required effort to make the system work, but against Leicester City, a less-than-engaged Tottenham team got pummelled.
With a chance to extend their lead in the top four, with Newcastle idle due to the Carabao Cup and facing a familiar and hated rival, the Tottenham team that can compete with any in Europe showed up, and the Spurs got the win over Chelsea as a result.
Tottenham was excellent at defending and counter-punching early and throughout, as Chelsea couldn’t find a way through
Chelsea came in with a clear plan to maintain possession; however, what they would do with it was a different story. The Blues held most of the ball throughout, but a compact and aggressive Tottenham defense kept Chelsea away from the goal most of the afternoon. Spurs, unchanged from the win over West Ham, came to play.
This is not to say that Fraser Forster never had to make a play, as he made a good block on Raheem Sterling in the first half after being blinded by Kai Havertz. In the second half, his biggest moment was a nice claim on the ground ahead of Havertz in the box among them. Nevertheless, Forster was never rattled, and none of the saves were world-class, as Spurs kept Chelsea and the ball in front of them all afternoon.
The solid defending from Tottenham did not stop on their half of the pitch, as Spurs took advantage of a team lacking confidence and made them pay for their mistakes.
Spurs, Skipp starts the second half with a bang, while Kane ends any doubt about the outcome
After a first half that ended with some pitiful refereeing and a red card that wasn’t, Tottenham came out a determined team to start the second half and jumped right on the blues.
The pressure from Tottenham was immediate from the half’s opening kick, and Emerson Royal forced a save out of Kep Arrizabalaga after Dejan Kulusevski got him the ball in the box. Unfortunately for Chelsea, Kepa could not hold onto the ball, and Chelsea tried to clear it. Fortunately for Spurs, Oliver Skipp was again terrific and was first to the clearance.
Racing back to beat Joao Felix to the ball, Skipp controlled it before him and unleashed a rocket toward the goal. Kepa did get a hand on the ball, but it did not matter as it blasted the back of the net for Oliver’s first Spurs goal.
With a lead early in the second half and the game already chippy, Spurs were able to continue to defend and tackle and keep Chelsea more in their heads than on the pitch.
Royal and Cristian Romero had the right side on lockdown, while Clement Lenget and Ben Davies kept the Blues quiet on Spurs’ left. Ultimately, all the battling paid off, forcing a late corner out of almost nothing.
As an Eric Dier flick found Harry Kane at the back post for the 2-0 lead, it was obvious this would be Tottenham’s day. Chelsea continued to try and push, and Spurs continued to tackle and defend, with the game ending as it should, with Tottenham taking all three points.
It was a professional win from Spurs, one Conte would be proud of, even if he were not there, as Tottenham perfectly executed the gameplan.