After falling at Burnley last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur went into today’s midweek Premier League match at Chelsea knowing it would be a tough match but that it would be an opportunity to keep a healthy distance between their London rivals. Instead, Chelsea got a goal from Pedro and a comical own-goal from Kieran Trippier and rolled to a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Mauricio Pochettino put out a strong side against the Blues, albeit one with a few changes from the XI that lost to Burnley at the weekend. Spurs reverted to a back four formation, with Davinson Sanchez coming in for Juan Foyth. Jan Vertonghen missed the match for unknown reasons (which Twitter suggested was a hip injury). Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies were the starting fullbacks. Erik Lamela also made his first start in a while, joining the front three with Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane. Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, and Christian Eriksen were in the midfield.
Chelsea started the match on the front foot, pressing Spurs and getting the lion’s share of the early chances. They were out-hustling Spurs to the ball and never really seemed to get Spurs a chance to get a toehold on the match for the opening ten minutes.
Chelsea got the first good look after only five minutes. Moussa Sissoko’s headed clearance went off the side of his head and fell to a wide open Gonzalo Higuain. Hugo Lloris could do nothing but watch gratefully as Higuain’s shot dinked off the post, and Spurs were able to clear the chance away.
Chelsea had another chance in the 20th minute off of a silly error from Hugo Lloris. With the ball at his feet, Hugo tried to pass out of danger but instead passed it directly to a Chelsea player. The ball made its way to a wide open Hazard who thankfully fired wide.
Spurs looked disjointed and out of sync for the majority of the first half, but started to find their footing in the last 15 minutes. Thanks to some incisive passing Spurs were able to get the ball into Chelsea’s box on a number of occasions but thanks to some stout defending from the Blues they were able to get a body on most of Spurs’ shot attempts.
Tottenham’s best chance of the half came from Harry Winks two minutes from time — his long range effort looped right over Caballero but hit the crossbar. Sonny had a nice turn and cross that fizzed across the face of goal, but there were no white shirts in place to turn the ball in.
The first half ended scoreless.
The start of the second half was much like the entirety of the first half — lots of Chelsea pressure, lots of broken-up play, very few chances on either side. Higuain put the ball into the back of the net in the 52nd minute but was called back for offside.
The breakthrough for Chelsea came in the 57th minute. On a Chelsea counterattack, Pedro improbably got the better of Toby Alderweireld, cutting around him and firing near post past Hugo to put the Blues up 1-0. It was a rare defensive miscue from Toby, but a very costly one.
Eriksen tried to pull Spurs back with a lovely dribble into the box in the 65th minute, but Chelsea winger Pedro was able to poke the ball away with an excellent tackle. Just afterwards, Harry Kane shinned a ball just wide of the post off of a cross from Lamela.
Pochettino made his first change in the 70th minute, bringing on Fernando Llorente for Erik Lamela, and followed up with Lucas Moura for Son Heung-Min at 79’ as Spurs searched for some offensive spark to try and get back into the match. Try as they might, they simply couldn’t find their way past a determined Chelsea defense.
Alderweireld had a long-range strike go wide of the post in the 83rd minute, and then things really went off the rails. In the 85th minute, a simple back-pass from Kieran Trippier missed Hugo Lloris entirely and trickled into the back of the net. It was one of the most ridiculous own goals you’ll ever see, but it’s little comfort to Tottenham who found themselves down 2-0 with just five minutes to play.
Spurs looked positively deflated after the own goal and never really mounted another decent look at goal, but did look especially frustrated, resulting in a scuffle on the sidelines between Harry Kane and David Luiz, one in which Kane picked up an undeserved yellow card.
Andre Marriner blew for time and the final score was 2-0.
Things We Learned
- When Tottenham play Chelsea, we usually expect a very physical match and that’s exactly what we got. Match official Andre Marriner was content to let a lot of physical play go on both sides, with a number of clear fouls gone uncalled.
- It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong today. Chelsea just out-pressed, out-hustled, and out-played Tottenham on the day and Spurs just didn’t have many answers.
- You don’t see Toby Alderweireld get beat that badly very often, which is why it’s so surprising to see it happen in such a big game.
- Another game where both Son and Kane were both anonymous. Spurs didn’t put a single shot on target today. That’s almost unspeakably poor.
- On that Trippier own-goal — he appeared to call for Hugo and then proceeded to pass the ball to where Hugo would’ve been if he hadn’t called for him. He never looked to where Hugo actually was. A colossal screw-up. It is, I think, the dumbest Spurs own goal I’ve ever seen.
- Thanks to wins from United, Arsenal, and Liverpool today, Spurs are suddenly in a much more complicated top four situation heading into what is now a HUGE North London Derby this weekend. Buckle up.
- Still undrawable.