It was scrappy at times, it was lively at times, but very rarely did one lose sight of the fact that the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea was a derby being played out between two tacticians who had very little love for one another. Both Andre Villas Boas and Jose Mourinho came to White Hart Lane on Saturday with a point to prove. The result? A 1-1 draw.
Spurs took the lead early on, scoring the opener in the 19th minute. Christian Eriksen turned, shook off his man and flew up the left, slipping the ball through two Chelsea defenders and across to Roberto Soldado. Soldado set up Gylfi Sigurdsson, who dodged John Terry and, making use of a fortuitous bounce, sent his shot low past Petr Cech.
The goal should’ve pulled Chelsea away from their defensive tactics, but it took until nearly the end of the half for the Blues to exert any real threat. Instead Spurs kept pressuring, very nearly doubling their lead after less than five minutes. Andros Townsend slipped the ball to Soldado, who sent it across for Paulinho, who might have been in with a chance had Branislav Ivanovic not slid in with a crucial tackle.
Jose Mourinho is smart enough to know when he needs to make a change, even if many would argue that his halftime substitute should have been on from the start. The Chelsea manager put on the out-of-favor Juan Mata to replace John Obi Mikel, with Ramires dropping back into a deeper midfield position. The Blues were firing right from the restart, with Fernando Torres looking particularly lively, sprinting down the right and very nearly setting up Oscar for a goal.
In fact, Torres was so lively that he found himself booked a couple minutes later, after a tussle with Jan Vertonghen during which it appeared the Spaniard scraped his fingernails across the Spurs player’s face. Torres continued to threaten, forcing Hugo Lloris into a save before setting up Juan Mata, whose ensuing goal was disallowed for offside.
But Chelsea, who are by far the better of the two sides for the majority of the second half, were able to find their equalizer in the 64th minute. Mata stepped up to take a free kick from distance, floating his shot into the penalty area. Terry was there to dart forward past Mousa Dembele and flick the ball into the back of the net.
Chelsea may have managed to find the equalizer had it not been for a strange sending off from referee Mike Dean. Again Torres and Vertonghen clashed — literally this time, with their heads coming together on what looked to be a 50-50 challenge. But Dean, perhaps mindful of not sending Torres off earlier, showed a second yellow, and Chelsea finished the final ten minutes down a man.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen; Paulinho, Dembele, Townsend (Chadli 61), Eriksen (Holtby 70), Sigurdsson; Soldado (Defoe 77)
Subs not used: Friedel, Chirches, Lamela, Sandro
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, D Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel (Mata 46), Lampard; Ramires, Oscar (Azpilicueta 83), Hazard (Schurrle 69); Torres.
Subs not used: Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, Eto’oFollow @KDS_Football