Chelsea swept aside Tottenham by two goals to nil after a goal from Pedro and a howler of an own goal from Kieran Trippier, ending any hopes of a title charge for Pochettino’s men.
This was certainly an evening for Lloris and the whole of the Spurs team to forget. Although Chelsea were by far the better team, both goals were avoidable – for the opener, Pedro crept into the right side of the Tottenham box with Alderweireld getting himself into trouble defensively, meaning the Spaniard could squeeze the ball through Lloris’ legs into the net.
Spurs were in the game no question, right up until Trippier scored a freak own goal after a misunderstanding between himself and his keeper, over-hitting the pass back to Lloris so much that it rolled past him into the goal.
Fingers may be pointed at certain players on the Spurs team, but the fact of the matter is that this defeat almost certainly ruins any hopes of a title surge, meaning focus must be turned towards finishing top four ahead of another London derby against Arsenal this weekend, with the Gunners now just four points behind their rivals.
In the other camp, Chelsea remain in sixth, but with a game in hand, and continued their run of excellent home form with Wednesday’s win. The Blues also have a promising run of fixtures for the remainder of the season, and will greatly fancy their chances of achieving a top four finish.
A defensive masterclass from Chelsea
It would be untrue to say that Spurs didn’t pressure Chelsea a fair bit during the match, as you would expect from Pochettino’s men. In fact, Tottenham probably tested the Chelsea defence more than Chelsea tested the Tottenham defence. However, Chelsea were much sturdier at the back and earned a well deserved clean sheet for the sixth time in nine home games.
In particular, Marcus Alonso and David Luiz were the standout performers in that Chelsea back-four, both making some wonder tackles between them to stop Tottenham from even getting close to scoring. Alonso effectively stopped Lamela from making any progress down the left-hand side, despite the Argentinian’s valiant efforts.
Spurs could also be criticised for holding onto the ball too long, allowing Chelsea to eventually put in a tackle and get the ball away. One moment that springs to mind is when Son found a penetrating pass to Eriksen, who looked for the whole world like he was about to score, but dilly-dallied and allowed Pedro of all people to track back and execute a mesmerising slide tackle and initiate the counter-attack.
Nevertheless, nothing can take away the fact that Chelsea put in a tremendous effort at the back, and got their reward for it.
Spurs’ catastrophic breakdown in communication
For the most part of the match, Spurs were not quite clicking and were struggling to hold onto the ball. As a result, their attacks lacked a lot of edge that is usually evident in the squad. However, there is one particular breakdown in communication that proved devastating and that two players will want to forget as quickly as possible.
Of course, that moment was the horrendous mix-up between Kieran Trippier and Hugo Lloris late in the game. As Willian held the press against Trippier, the Spurs right-back was forced to play a pass back to his keeper. However, Lloris had come far off his line, perhaps expecting Trippier to usher the ball into his hands. But the Englishman opted for playing the pass, making the mistake of hitting it far too hard to the side of Lloris. The result of this was the ball sailing straight past the keeper and into the Spurs net.
This was probably one of the worst defensive malfunctions the Premier League has ever seen, and I don’t think either Lloris or Trippier can make too many excuses. Why the keeper came so far off his line is a bit of a mystery but Trippier, who had a good game prior to this in fairness, should have been able to see this and play the appropriate pass back to his keeper.
Kepa dropped from the starting XI
The biggest controversy of probably the whole season occurred on the weekend when Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be taken off before the penalty shootout in the League Cup final against Manchester City, undermining Sarri’s authority.
Understandably, Sarri kicked off in pretty spectacular fashion after this bizarre show of stubbornness and was clearly keen to re-establish some authority by starting Willy Caballero over Kepa on Wednesday night. The Spaniard was forced to watch enviously from the sidelines as his fellow keeper kept a clean sheet.
Will Kepa continue to be benched, or is this just a one-off from Sarri? Caballero didn’t really have a chance to actually make a good account of himself, as Spurs never really tested the keeper on the night. Kepa has also been fined a week’s wages for his actions, but will Sarri feel this is punishment enough? We’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out, but with Roma reportedly offering the Italian a job back in his home country, will Sarri even be at Chelsea much longer after such an assault on his authority?
Tottenham flat and predictable
Spurs lacked a slight creative edge to their attacking play and, although Chelsea had to endure a few spells of intense pressure, the away team never looked like scoring. Their best effort of the match came when Harry Winks hit the bar from a tremendous effort from outside the box.
Tottenham just didn’t seem to want to shoot that often, even when they did manage to wriggle past the back line. Once they got into a decent position, they perhaps tried too hard to find a more inventive way to the goal and ended up taking too long, allowing Chelsea to predict their next move and cut out the attack.
It seemed as though the weekend’s shock defeat to Burnley had a very adverse effect on Spurs’ confidence, suggesting that a creative buildup play lacked the sanguinity and assured mindset to be successful. Their confidence will have taken an even bigger knock after this defeat, and Pochettino will need to raise the camp’s morale before they face Arsenal on Saturday.
A feisty fixture once again
Chelsea vs Spurs is one of the most hotly contested rivalries in the league, especially when it comes to the game itself. Wednesday’s match certainly lived up to expectations even if it wasn’t quite on the same level as the yellow card bonanza that occurred near the end of the 2015/16 season, which nearly saw Diego Costa have his eye gouged out by Mousa Dembele.
However, David Luiz, Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko were all involved in a few fiery moments that demonstrated how things can sometimes get out of hand between Chelsea and Spurs. For some reason when these two teams face each other, they both seem to despise each other from the get-go.
However, proceedings were kept under control in expect fashion by Andre Marriner, even though the referee let a lot of incidents go unpunished throughout the game. In fact, Marriner didn’t book a single player until the final minute when resolving an argument between Kane and Luiz, resulting in both players getting a yellow card.
Man of the Match – David Luiz
David Luiz was the central spine of the Chelsea defence on Wednesday night, sticking to his position in the back-four extremely well. The Brazilian made some stunning tackles to stop Spurs getting anywhere near the goal and Sarri will be extremely happy with his performance.