Spurs' title chances were the longest of long shots coming into Monday night's match against rival Chelsea. In one of the wildest and most fiery match-ups of the season, Spurs could not break the 24-match winless streak at Stamford Bridge, having to settle for a 2-2 draw that ultimately ended the Premier League title race, crowning Leicester City as champions.
The first 20 minutes of the match didn't feature any major chances. In fact, the only real storyline to speak of was referee Mark Clattenburg's decision to give everyone committing fouls a stern talking to. Danny Rose seemed to start the trend with a foul on Willian deep in the attacking third, but instead of booking the left back roughly 13 minutes into the match, he opted to give Rose a verbal warning. Not two minutes later, Chelsea fullback Branislov Ivanovic took down Danny Rose at midfield and received the same warning. Kyle Walker didn't exactly help things in the 18th minute by getting called for a foul and then doing a little extra kick towards Pedro.
In the 26th minute, Chelsea broke free on a counter attack. Pedro, before getting fouled by Kyle Walker, found Diego Costa breaking free. Costa fed the ball to Fabregas on the right side of the penalty area. The Spaniard fired a shot for the far post but went just wide of a diving Hugo Lloris and the post.
Two minutes later, Spurs had their first real chance. After a quick build-up play, Erik Lamela chested a ball down and fell onto the ground. Before anyone could get the ball from him, he flared a pass to Heung-Min Son. The Korean International found a couple yards of space and took a crack, but his shot was well wide of the net to end the threat.
Chelsea was gifted a chance in the 31st minute after Walker was dispossessed. Costa made a cutback towards his left to get a shot away, only to have it deflected away by Toby Alderweireld.
After 35 minutes of back and forth, fairly open play, Spurs broke through with the first goal of the match. Christian Eriksen tapped a pass to Erik Lamela. The Argentine then played a perfectly weighted through ball to Harry Kane. While Chelsea defenders threw their arms up, begging for offside, Kane rounded Begovic and calmly passed the ball into the net to make it 1-0 Spurs.
Spurs picked up their second goal of the match in the 44th minute. Kane won a 50/50 ball that managed to find Eriksen, who then made a through ball to Son. Son took a single touch and slotted a shot past Begovic to make it 2-0.
Before the half ended, what can only be described as a scrum occurred in front of the bench area as Danny Rose came in hard on a challenge to Willian. The two players came together with shoves which led to Mauricio Pochettino coming out onto the pitch to separate the players. Eventually, almost every player on the pitch came into the clash that would end with Rose and Willian each getting a yellow card for their trouble. During the scrum, it appeared that Mousa Dembele made contact with Diego Costa's face. It was missed by the officials, but who knows if the FA will look at that the same way they looked at Dele Alli last week.
Chelsea opened the second half scoring in the 58th minute off of a corner kick. John Terry got just enough of a flick back to put the ball away from any Spurs defender. Gary Cahill came free enough to boot the ball past a diving Lloris, cutting the lead in half to 2-1.
After a substitution that saw Ryan Mason come on for Heung-Min Son, Spurs would get a big chance as Lamela found a cutting Mason in the middle of the pitch at the top of the 18. Mason would get his shot off, but Begovic was up to the task and prevented the midfielder from getting the two goal lead back.
After several back and forth situations that saw half-chances for both sides, Spurs could not keep Chelsea from scoring again. In the 83rd minute after Harry Kane was dispossessed deep in Chelsea territory, the home side built up through Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Costa came free in the middle and fed the ball back to Hazard. The Belgian and former POTY curled the ball into the top corner. Lloris had no chance at it and the score was leveled at 2-2. This is how it would end at Stamford Bridge, but not without more altercations and even a post-match scuffle going into the tunnel.
The draw at Stamford Bridge puts Spurs on 70 points for the season in second place. They are three points clear of Arsenal with a +14 advantage in Goal Differential and six clear of Manchester City with a +9 advantage in Goal Differential.
Thoughts on the match
- There are still wild scenarios that could keep Spurs out of the Champions League, but they are massive long shots thanks to having a superior goal differential.
- Leave it to Hazard to score his best goal of the season (not that there was a long list to choose from) to cost us when it mattered the most.
- Mark Clattenburg did the worst thing he could by not handing out early bookings. If he books Rose and Ivanovic early on, this match probably doesn't get nearly out of hand as it did.
- That being said, he sure made up for it once the match was out of control. Nine Spurs players were booked over the course of the match out of a possible 14. Chelsea had three. I am stunned that that nobody was sent off.
- Sadly, we're going to have to wait to hear about possible charges for the second week in a row. The Dembele-Costa incident is the one that worries me the most, but if you'll remember back in 2013, Fernando Torres did something very similar to Jan Vertonghen and the FA ruled that they could not retroactively punish for it. I'm not sure if the rule on facial contact has changed since then, but we'll know soon enough.
- Anyone else feel like Spurs just completed a wrestling-level heel turn?
- While Spurs looked good in the first half even with the back and forth play, they seemed to lose focus in the second half.
- I cannot tell you how much I dislike Diego Costa. I'm sure plenty here will feel the same.
- Not that I have to tell anyone here, but you'll want to root for Manchester City next week. A City win and a single point against Southampton will not only lock up the group stage in the Champions League, but will put Spurs above Arsenal for good on the season.