Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Blues blitz Spurs to extend their lead at the top (video)

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League standings, as the Blues are now 14 games unbeaten with 11 wins and three draws.

But it wasn’t plain sailing for Jose Mourinho’s men who were made to work extremely hard by Spurs for the win, as three pivotal second half minutes altered the outcome of this fiery London derby.

Samuel Eto’o — who wasn’t even meant to be starting but replaced Fernando Torres in the lineup after the latter injured himself in the warm-up — scored the first goal after a defensive slip up by Spurs, and the Cameroon international then won a penalty two minutes later. Eden Hazard netted the penalty kick, his 13th PL goal of the season, as Spurs defender Younes Kaboul was sent off for taking down Eto’o in the box after being adjudged to have stopped a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The rest of the game saw Chelsea trying to extend their 2-0 lead, as Tottenham couldn’t recover from a devastating three-minute spell after a bright start from the away side. Late on substitute Demba Ba scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation with tidy finishes from inside the box, as Tottenham’s tired legs struggled to contain Chelsea’s rampant offense.

With the win Chelsea now sit seven points clear at the top of the standings on 66 points, although Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all have games in hand. Spurs remain in fifth on 53 points.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup – Chelsea extend lead, Man United click, huge win for Cardiff)

After just four minutes Chelsea has a glorious chance to go ahead as Hazard raced clear, took the ball around Spurs ‘keeper Hugo Lloris but the angle proved too tight for the Belgian as he hammered his shot wide.

The game then settled down as Tottenham enjoyed a lengthy spell of possession, with Spurs holding their own at the Bridge. They almost went one better than that in the 15th minute as Nabil Bentaleb got free on the left hand side of the penalty box but pulled his effort just wide of the far post with Aaron Lennon lurking, but unable to connect.

source: AP
Hazard nets a PK as Spurs unraveled at Stamford Bridge after a promising start.

Chelsea struggled to create clear cut chances but Spurs certainly didn’t as Sandro hit a instinctive volley towards the bottom corner in the 22nd minute that was tipped wide by a sprawling Petr Cech in goal for Chelsea. The rest of the first half played out with Chelsea trying to prod and probe to get in behind Spurs, but Tim Sherwood’s side were stubborn and looked extremely solid.

After a scoreless first half Chelsea replaced Frank Lampard with Oscar as the Blues tried to force the issue in the second half. And within 15 minutes of the restart they were home and dry.

First Eto’o put Chelsea 1-0 up in the 56th minute, as Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen slipped and Andre Schurrle pounced to play in Eto’o who made no mistake by slotting past Lloris. Moments later it was 2-0, as Eto’o was played in and just as he was about to shoot Kaboul clattered into him and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. To compound the award of a penalty, Oliver also showed Kaboul a straight-red card as Spurs were down to 10-men and then 2-0 down as Hazard coolly slotted home the PK.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

The rest of the game played out with Chelsea trying flicks and tricks and Spurs struggling to get hold of the ball after being reduced to 10-men. Ba made it 3-0 in the 88th minute when Oscar surged through and the ball fell to Chelsea’s striker in the box and he cleaned up. Then Ba capitalized on a bad mistake from Kyle Walker just a minute later, as he intercepted Walker’s header back to Lloris and stroked the ball home for Chelsea’s fourth and final goal.

Chelsea kept yet another clean sheet as they extended their lead at the top of the PL, while Spurs’ quest for a top four finish took a big hit.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard (Oscar, 45); Ramires, Hazard, Schurrle (Willian, 66); Eto’o (Ba, 75)

Goals: Eto’o (56′), Hazard (60′), Ba (88′ & 89′)

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Fryers, 72) , Kaboul, Vertonghen; Bentaleb, Sandro; Walker, Lennon, Sigurdsson (Paulinho, 61); Adebayor

Petr Cech earns win with 2 penalty saves in hockey debut

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Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper joined English fourth-division hockey team Guildford Phoenix four days ago and made his debut on Sunday.

He did not disappoint.

The 37-year-old saved two penalties in the shootout, earning Man of the Match honors.

Cech is reportedly a fan of the Guilford Flames, the first-division side who use the Phoenix as their developmental side. He was signed to be the team’s third-choice goalkeeper, just a chance for him to get in on the action before his body gives way for good, but he was given a chance to play right away. He wore number 39, a nod to famous Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek. His custom helmet was adorned with Arsenal and Chelsea colors. Regulation finished level at 2-2 before Cech’s shootout heroics.

“I wanted to win, that was the main thing, and I’m glad we did,” Cech said after the match. “I was surprised that I wasn’t more nervous. I didn’t know what to expect so it was nice how quickly my body switched into matchday mode.”

Giroud upset with reserve role at Chelsea

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Olivier Giroud does not look back on his transfer to Chelsea and wish he had done things differently, but that doesn’t mean things are all sunshine and roses for the 33-year-old.

Giroud, who moved to Chelsea from Arsenal in the winter of 2018 after six years with the Gunners, has played just 43 times in the Premier League, averaging just 35 minutes per appearance. That has him frustrated, hoping to prove his loyalty to the club and work harder than the other options up front.

“I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving,” Giroud said. “I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019. Once again, I’m starting the year in a difficult situation. But as my brother says, I have always built myself in the face of adversity.”

Giroud is trying to be smart about how he approaches the competition for time with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi, but he says it is emotionally taxing.

“You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations,” Giroud says about keeping a level head. “I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticize him. But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I’m worth on a pitch.”

The French international has made just three league appearances this season, mostly thanks to Abraham’s scalding form. Abraham, still just 22 years old, has snatched his opportunity for first-team minutes with eight goals in eight games to start the campaign. That has left Giroud on the sidelines for each of the last five league games, missing out on a spot in the matchday squad altogether for the last three.

Despite his struggles at the club level, Giroud has maintained his place in the French national team, missing just five matches of France’s last 64 games, including 37 of the last 39.

James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Kane reflects on Tottenham, England struggles

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Harry Kane keeps finding the back of the net, but his teams keep losing.

The 26-year-old striker has bagged five Premier League goals in eight games for Spurs thus far, plus another seven goals for England in five Euro 2020 qualifiers this cycle. Yet Tottenham sits ninth in the table after three losses already this season, while England slumped to its first Euro defeat last time out, putting its seeding at the Euro finals next summer in jeopardy.

Kane is hoping to be a leader through the tough times for both club and country, wearing the armband for both as it currently stands.

“I think you need to lead by example,” Kane said ahead of England’s visit to Bulgaria on Monday. “Not getting too down when you lose a game, not getting too high when you win games. It is a long, old season for club and country ahead – a lot of games to be played so there are going to be tough periods.”

Kane has taken over the England captaincy on a permanent basis, and is filling in for the injured Hugo Lloris at Tottenham. “I am still the same person,” he said. “I still try and lead by example on and off the pitch and I will continue to do that. I have been in high pressure situations before in my career, whether that is going through goal droughts, playing in high-pressure games or not playing well as a team. It is something I will take in my stride and improve on.”

Leading by example includes finding the back of the net, while also supporting teammates both on and off the pitch. He knows even if he’s in good personal form on the stat sheet, there’s always ways to improve and help the squads through tough times.

“I am scoring goals but can I get more assists, create more chances? So yeah, I always look at little things I can get better at. Yes, the England form has been good but as ever, it can be better. We will see if I can continue scoring. It has been a good campaign but important I do not stop now.”