Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to secure a huge three points in their battle fo finish in the top four of the Premier League.
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Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso struck early in each half as Jose Mourinho’s Spurs were totally dominated with Erik Lamela‘s late cross deflected in off Antonio Rudiger for nothing more than a consolation.
Frank Lampard‘s tactical changes paid off as he completed the double over his former manager, as he became the first man to beat a side managed by Mourinho both home and away in a single league season.
With the win (their first in five games) Chelsea cement their spot in fourth and now sit four points above fifth-place Spurs who have 40 points.
3 things we learned
1. Giroud delivers clinical edge: This is just what he does. For some reason Giroud has been the third-choice striker all season at Chelsea and he looked likely to leave in January. Chelsea will be glad he didn’t. Tammy Abraham is young and has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season and Michy Batshuayi doesn’t have Giroud’s composure or experience in key moments. Giroud jumped off the bench on Monday against Man United and scored but was just offside and he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. We spoke with Giroud after his display against United and he said he was fired up and ready to start, especially with a place in France’s EURO 2020 squad on the line. With Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, surely he has to lead the Chelsea line. With his clever runs and flicks, Giroud linked up defense and attack perfectly. This is just what he does and it is a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.
2. Mourinho’s excuses seep into his players: We get it, Mourinho has been unlucky with injuries with Harry Kane out until April and Heung-Min Son perhaps out for the season. But Mourinho saying that a top four finish this season would be the best achievement of his managerial career was a stretch. That message of negativity filtered into the minds of his Spurs players as the 2-1 scoreline flattered them. Bergwijn and Moura were so isolated and Tottenham’s midfield was totally overrun. Mourinho has done well to push Spurs back into the top four conversation since he arrived but Tottenham, especially defensively, are so far away from being genuine top four contenders.
3. VAR drama rumbles on: Giovani Lo Celso should have been sent off and VAR officials at Stockley Park have since admitted that via BT Sport. His stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg was a clear case of violent conduct and a lengthy VAR review during the game resulted in the Argentine playmaker staying on the pitch. How is that possible? When you see it you will wince and even thought Azpilicueta slid in, Lo Celso had enough time to pull his foot away from the challenge. One of the worst VAR decisions you will see as the debate about its consistency rumbles on.
Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud – Scored a goal and had a hand in the second as his overall display provided Chelsea with a focal point. Even though his contract is up this summer, expect to see plenty of Giroud for Chelsea between now and then.
Chelsea looked dangerous early on as Giroud went close from a corner as the hosts came flying out of the traps.
They got the goal their fine start deserved as Giroud was denied by Hugo Lloris, Ross Barkley hit the post with the rebound and then Giroud was on hand to tuck home from a tight angle to make it 1-0.
A VAR delay to check if the goal was offside was needed but in his first start since November, Giroud had delivered. Marcos Alonso sent a volley just over as Chelsea were in their groove.
Spurs improved as half time drew closer as Lucas Moura‘s shot deflected over and then from the resulting corner a looping header from Davinson Sanchez was tipped over by Willy Caballero.
Japhet Tanganga almost made the most of a long ball in-behind Alonso but his first touch was just a tad too heavy, as Spurs were hanging in the game despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous.
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The second half continued in the same pattern of the first as Chelsea doubled their lead in splendid fashion.
A flowing move which involved all four players brought into the starting lineup by Lampard saw Giroud flick the ball towards Mason Mount who fed Barkley who teed up Alonso to smash home a low shot and send the home fans wild.
Moments after a huge moment of controversy arrived as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg but after a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement.
Tanguy Ndombele then went down in the box as he tried to dribble towards goal but Spurs were so lackluster in attack and Chelsea totally deserved a massive three points as substitute Tammy Abraham went close late on as Lloris saved and Alonso smashed the bar with a wonderful free kick.
Tottenham did pull one back in the 89th minute after substitute Lamela crossed and his effort deflected into the net off Rudiger, but Chelsea never looked likely to cough up another goal late on.