Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea tightened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League lunchtime kick-off with a thoroughly deserved victory over fifth-placed Spurs.
Head coach Frank Lampard made four changes for the Blues, tellingly bringing in Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso, who both scored. The Frenchman has been largely ignored this season, but he pounced early in the first half and Alonso settled matters early in the second before Spurs scored a late consolation.
And, of course, there was yet more VAR controversy as Spurs’ Giovani Lo Celso somehow managed to evade a red card.
Both teams arrived on the back of a defeat, with Chelsea losing at home to Manchester United and Spurs going down in their Champions League match against Red Bull Leipzig. So this was a huge win for the Lampard, while his former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was left to lick his wounds.
The apprentice had outwitted the master.
Highlights of the game
The hosts started brightly and could have already been ahead before Giroud’s strike in the 15th minute. The France striker brought a good save out of his international colleague, Hugo Lloris, and when Ross Barkley’s follow up crashed back off the post, Giroud was there to slam the ball home from a tight angle.
There was an anxious moment while VAR checked for offside — Giroud had an effort chalked off by the technology against Manchester United — so there was great relief around Stamford Bridge when the goal stood.
With Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son out injured, Mourinho made the bold decision to leave out Dele Alli, who reacted angrily when he was hooked against Leipzig in midweek.
Frontmen Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura have a lot of pace, though. It was Moura who came closest to scoring for Spurs in the first half, but his shot was deflected to safety by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Chelsea’s second goal came just after half-time and was beautifully worked as it involved all four of Lampard’s recalled players. Giroud flicked on to Mason Mount, who fed Ross Barkley, and he squared for Marcos Alonso to fire a beauty past Hugo Lloris.
The home crowd were in raptures, but they were incensed not long after when a moment of real controversy changed the mood. As the players contested the ball near the touchline, Lo Celso stamped on Azpilicueta’s leg. It seemed like a straight red card on the replay but VAR looked at it and didn’t act.
The only possible explanation was that the Stockley Park officials thought Lo Celso had lost balance but, bizarrely, they admitted human error later in the game!
Matters could have been even worse when Erik Lamela’s cross shot was deflected into his own net by Antonio Rudiger, but Chelsea saw out a tense finale and Lampard celebrated.
The pre-match Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur betting odds had the hosts at 1.78 to win this game and they fully deserved the three points.
Possession was shared but Chelsea won the shot count by 17 to five, and seven to three on target.
The Blues have now won three on the bounce against Spurs and ended a run of four games without a win, while Spurs lost for the first time in five away matches.
Chelsea have become the first team to beat a Jose Mourinho side at home and away in a Premier League season, quite fitting that his former midfield star has broken that record.
But it’s the 10th time Spurs have conceded two or more goals away from home this season and that won’t please Jose one bit.
And surely, Giroud has earned a run in the Chelsea team. He has been involved in 14 goals in his last 14 starts, scoring 10 and assisting four.
This could be a pivotal moment in the Premier League top-four race as Chelsea have ended a difficult run and stretched their advantage over Spurs to four points.
Fans of both sides will be watching for the Premier League 2020 results throughout the weekend, particularly Manchester United’s game against struggling Watford on Sunday, as well as a treat for SBOTOP Premier League fans when Everton host Arsenal.
Next up, the Blues have a huge Champions League challenge on Tuesday with the visit of Bundesliga champions FC Bayern, before visiting struggling Bournemouth next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mourinho’s Spurs host Europe-chasing Wolves at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next Sunday.
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