Tottenham roll over as Chelsea cruise to victory

Thiago Silva opened the scoring as Thomas Tuchel’s side continue to look impressive

Antonio Rudiger celebrates with Timo Werner. Photo: Matt Dunham/AP Photo

Antonio Rudiger celebrates with Timo Werner. Photo: Matt Dunham/AP Photo

 

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Chelsea 3

The narrative seemed to call for a decisive intervention from Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku on the day when English football lost the great Jimmy Greaves. Instead it was all about the intelligence of Thomas Tuchel, who once again displayed his tactical chops by taking this game away from Tottenham at half-time, the introduction of N’Golo Kanté for Mason Mount pushing Chelsea to another commanding win.

Sloppy and vulnerable during a testing first half, Chelsea were transformed once Kanté entered the fray. Tottenham, their early adrenaline fading, were overrun. Chelsea were creating chances at will and although Lukaku did not manage to join in the fun, goals from Thiago Silva, Kanté and Antonio Rüdiger were enough to lift them level with Manchester United and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

Once again Tuchel had taken control, outwitting Nuno Espírito Santo with his tweaks during the interval. Spurs had played well until that point, threatening to end Chelsea’s unbeaten run, but they were outclassed in the second half. Denied that move to Manchester City, Kane simply looked sad and irrelevant in the Spurs attack.

The game was preceded by poignant tributes for Greaves, who represented both teams with such distinction, scoring 132 goals for Chelsea and 266 for Spurs. It was a day to respect footballing history. Nostalgia filled the air as Spurs heroes such as Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles, Martin Chivers, Steve Perryman and Ledley King stood by the side of the pitch during a magnificently observed minute’s applause and for a brief moment fans of both clubs were united, brought together by a footballer who looked ahead of his time during his 60s pomp

Greaves would have loved playing in this game. In fact, he probably would have finished off some of the openings created by both sides during a frenetic opening period. The atmosphere was electric and there was no sign of Spurs holding back against the European champions, pressing high and repeatedly testing Chelsea’s stingy defence.

It was not long before Tuchel was hopping up and down on the touchline. Too deep, Chelsea made a lot of errors with their distribution during the early stages. Kepa Arrizabalaga, in for the injured Edouard Mendy in goal, looked susceptible with the ball at his feet and the home fans roared when Rüdiger was rushed into an early mistake, miscontrolling a pass before letting the ball run out of play.

Spurs, boosted by the return of Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso from their spells in quarantine, had an intriguingly fluid attacking system. Son Heung-min lined up through the middle, Kane pulled to the left to throw Tuchel’s defenders, Giovani Lo Celso schemed and there were times when Chelsea looked confused by Nuno’s approach, giving away more chances than usual.

Chelsea were under pressure from the start, Andreas Christensen clearing from Kane in the six-yard box. Sergio Reguilón surged through from left-back, only to fluff his cross. Chelsea were cut open at times, with Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic unable to exert control in midfield, and they were fortunate to escape when Lo Celso played in Son, whose heavy touch allowed Arrizabalaga to smother.

Nonetheless Chelsea had their moments, with Kai Havertz menacing. Havertz carries the ball up the pitch so gracefully and Spurs were grateful when the German spurned two inviting opportunities, scuffing the first before producing an air shot with the second.

Chelsea, who were struggling to involve Lukaku, had to show more care in the final third. At one point Mason Mount, who has been insipid of late, skipped through the middle with options to his left and right after Eric Dier left his fellow centre-back, Romero, exposed with a reckless lunge. Chelsea live for these moments – the times when they pounce after luring an opponent in – yet Mount was unable to capitalise, infuriating Tuchel with a poor pass to Lukaku.

It was not a surprise to see Mount removed at half-time. Having seen Spurs win too many of the loose balls, Tuchel seized the initiative during the break, altering the mood in an instant by beefing up his midfield with Kanté.

Few teams can boast such immense strength in depth; few managers, though, know how to use it so effectively. With Kanté snapping at their heels, Spurs no longer looked comfortable in defence. Jorginho and Kovacic began to dictate the flow and Spurs escaped when Marcos Alonso, sprinting behind Emerson Royal on the left, drew a sharp save from Hugo Lloris with a spectacular volley on the stretch.

Spurs were on the retreat and the breakthrough arrived four minutes into the second half, Silva given a free run to charge on to Alonso’s corner and head past Hugo Lloris. The insipid Dele Alli was no match for Silva, who was a calming influence for Chelsea at the back, and Spurs duly collapsed, soon conceding again.

This time Lo Celso was at fault, carelessly squandering possession. Kovacic calmly played the ball to Kanté, who had space to shoot from 25 yards. A huge deflection off Dier left Lloris stranded and the main question for the rest of the game was whether the Chelsea substitute Timo Werner was going to be able to take one off many chances.

On this evidence, Werner could do with watching some old clips of Greaves. For all his misses, though, the striker still came up with an assist for Rüdiger to finish calmly in added time. Chelsea were utterly rampant. – Guardian

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