Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur – Hallmark of Champions

The sensation after beating our north London rivals is one of gratification, further enhanced by the fact that we had given them hope in the first-half of securing their first victory at Stamford Bridge in 24 years, only for it to be cruelly obliterated in the short space of three second-half minutes. And for Spurs to be the masters of their epic downfall, it was an evening the Chelsea supporters will fondly recall.

Match Report

Prior to Samuel Eto’o’s opener, Tottenham had contested well during the first-half and were by far the dominant side. Tim Sherwood’s men had frustrated a vast amount of the home support with their possession play. Our squandering of the ball contributed to the air of displeasure around the Bridge after another lacklustre performance.

It mirrored our first-half display at Craven Cottage last week, excused with consideration of our Turkish adventure in the Champions League. That made our apathetic display here supposedly forgivable given the enervating nature of mid-week internationals. Jose Mourinho’s silent treatment may have been the watershed for an excellent second-half showing at Fulham, but tactical adjustments were required here.

We were shorn of a central attacking spark during the first 45, with Mourinho sensing similarly as he ushered Oscar on at Frank Lampard’s expense after the interval. Nevertheless, quality failed to play the most significant role in deciding the outcome of this match. Dismal defending from those in Tottenham white did.

The Brazilian’s designated role was to be the bridge between our midfielders and strikers, and it seemed to be paying dividends. In the first two minutes of the second-half, we had fashioned two chances, with Eto’o wasteful and Andre Schurrle’s technique failing him at the critical moment as he failed to generate enough power in his shot to properly work Hugo Lloris.

Capitalizing on Jan Vertonghen’s clumsy error, Eto’o’s accomplished finish evaded the last-ditch efforts of Michael Dawson to be followed by a humourous “old-man” celebration as he clutched his back and gripped the corner flag, wearing a spuriously pained expression. The Cameroon striker’s amusing antics were, as Jose stated, the best way to diffuse the well-documented debate, prompted by Mourinho’s comments, over the veracity of his age.

Any hope Sherwood harboured of ending Spurs’ lengthy wait for victory in the blue side of SW6 dwindled two minutes later, after Eto’o used all his experience to earn a penalty – duly dispatched by Eden Hazard – and reduce Tottenham to 10 men. With Hazard breaking down the left, the Belgian supplied Eto’o, who used his wisdom to get goal-side of Younes Kaboul and then await the challenge from the French defender, who ploughed into the back of the 32-year old, with the outcome being a harsh red card.

The two goals from Demba Ba which followed were consequences of Spurs’ horribly make-shift back-line. With Kaboul sent off and Dawson having succumbed to injury, the Senegalese striker could hardly believe his fortune. He profited from Sandro’s costly slip, with the Brazilian fortunate to not have seen red for a deliberate handball amongst the action, and slotted the ball in-between the legs of the despairing Lloris before netting into an empty goal after a calamitously short header back to the keeper from Kyle Walker.

Starting XI: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Lampard, Ramires, Hazard, Schurrle, Eto’o.

Subs: Schwarzer, Kalas, Mikel, Oscar, Willian, Ba, Salah.

Man of the Match – Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroonian was not bought to dazzle crowds with his silky skills and register twenty, thirty goals a season, and in recent weeks, that’s precisely what he has been doing. For the opening goal, he was alert to Vertonghen’s error and pounced, waiting for Lloris to spread himself before stroking home. Our second was another example of his treasured asset, inviting the challenge from Kaboul to hugely beneficial effect. The manner in which he managed his late inclusion into the starting eleven for such an important match, following Torres’s groin problem during the pre-match warm-up, was commendable and he should have earned a penalty in the opening thirty seconds (he was incorrectly ruled offside and Lloris would have seen red) and then wonderfully played in Hazard after four minutes, with the Belgian skipping past Lloris to sky over the crossbar.

Rock Solid

As Spurs dominated possession during the first-half, I felt completely at ease. Walker and Vertonghen were making good runs down the wings with Nabil Bentaleb and Sandro proving to be the much more assertive force in the midfield. The fashion in which we dealt with their inefficient dominance was remarkable. Our defence did not, even on one occasion, look out of shape and disjointed as they exuded confidence. Mourinho’s previous double title-winning side was built on sound defensive foundations. Our side here seem so too.

Hallmark of Champions

This heading strongly links with the previous. Tottenham’s conservative play had lacked the required conviction, guile and penetration to trouble our stout resistance. All the same, our play during the first-half was unsatisfactory. We frequently gave the ball away in a needless and carefree manner (no pun intended), but it is the hallmark of champions to play poorly, be patient and pounce efficiently and ruthlessly. It is a hallmark of a side coached by the shrewd pragmatist that is Jose Mourinho.

Title Race Analysis

While Jose may claim he would prefer to have three games in-hand rather than boast a nine point advantage over Manchester City, it leaves Manuel Pellegrini’s side under pressure to accumulate maximum points from those trio of fixtures, which include a trip to Old Trafford, to cancel out our advantage. Additionally, with Liverpool and Arsenal seven points adrift of the league summit, despite their games in hand, it seems as if we possess the psychological advantage over our title rivals.

As we gain momentum going into our remaining games, the others have strict guidelines to meet – points must not be dropped.

Giddy-up, little horse! Nine more games to go!

There are 21 comments

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  1. Mark

    The title is done and dusted. I can’t see Abramovich dropping any points. It’s joyless, awful to watch, but the fact is Abramovich waited for an appalling Tottenham team to make mistakes and Eto to dive. Game over. I think Boreinho will have a cunning plan to beat Bayern as well for a famous double. Can the owner have beautiful football and winning football – not with Boreinho, but winning football – definitely. The fact is he is a winner and a winner at all costs and it looks like Abramovich might just have it over Mansour by hiring the best manager in the game. These two play things will dominate for as long as the owners are in place and ending second will be complete failure. I did think it was very funny when he decided to shake hands with the Tottenham management team before the game was over. Even in victory he is a classless little man.

    • Ramone

      If we win at Villa and Liverpool I think it is entirely possible that we could win the other remaining games. The home record suggests we can win against Arsenal, Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich. And you’d like to think that champion contenders would win away at Cardiff, Swansea and Palace. If we stay in the CL it’ll be harder of course, but that’s surely why we have a big squad.

      Still, I reckon that whatever happens in the remainder of this League campaign, our season will have exceeded expectations from a results perspective. I’m really happy to see us press and work hard (which seems to be plan A), or to drop off and counter (a la Everton) if that’s what it takes to be in the CL next season. It is certainly preferable (Ivan’s crossing excluded) to playing tippy-tappy stuff and coming 6th. I also think that we need to wait until next year, when Jose says he’ll have sorted us out, before tarring him with the Boriniho brush. If we win something whilst waiting then all the better.

      I agree that the premature, rub the defeat it in, handshakes are unnecessary. Jose would be well advised to pack that in.

      • Mark

        I doubt he’ll pack it in, it’s what he does now and it’s why he is not widely respected as a person, but as a winning coach he is second only to the genius that was Brian Clough (imagine a young Brian Clough managing Chelsea, Real et al). I cannot see how they can blow the league from here, but for a Leyton Orient fan and guest at the game on Saturday it was really poor. I was looking forward to seeing Chelsea and some of their players, but it looked as if they were simply waiting for a terrible Tottenham side to make a mistake. I was bored and looking around me so were most of the fans. At the end of the day it was 3 terrible mistakes – 2 following a brilliant bit of cheating and the latest in a long line of terrible refereeing decisions. Chelsea looked as if they weren’t trying to win the game, simply waiting for the opposition to lose it and I expected so much more.

        • Ramone

          I’m not sure you can say he’s not widely respected as a person. You may not respect him, but that’s different.
          And as for the expectation that the one Chelsea game you attend will be a feast of footballing delight, I’m sure you know that football’s just not like that. I took your original post as a general observation. To focus in on the Spurs game to make your point is just silly.

          • limetreebower

            It’s the popular narrative at work, isn’t it? The story about José is that he’s the enemy of football whose teams are boring and defensive. So, every time anything happens which tends towards confirming the story, it’s immediately highlighted. José shakes hands before the final whistle: ah! see? He’s classless and arrogant and the enemy of football. Chelsea don’t play very well? Told you his teams were boring and defensive. Chelsea win 1-0? Typical Mourinho!

            Wherea the story with (say) Pellegrini is that he’s calm and academic and dginified. So when he sounds off about biased and incompetent referees, the reaction is rather different. And the story with Wenger is that his teams play beautiful football, so when Arsenal win 1-0, it’s just a 1-0 win.

            The stories don’t come out of nowhere, of course. But, like any cliché, they’re lazy substitutes for a proper look at what’s actually going on.

            People see what they want/expect to see, or are told to see by the media. Our Orient fan is just parroting the same old stuff we saw from visiting fans on this blog in 2005-8. “Bought the title” — check. “No class” — check. “Boring” — check. I”m only surprised we didn’t get something about plastic fans and not having any history.

          • Cunningplan

            Excellent analysis on the current spin when it comes to Chelsea and Jose, and our so called dull/boring football.
            Here’s a link to the amount of chances created by Premier league teams (up to 25th Feb 14)

            No surprises for the two teams that are above us, (and not by much) but look where Arsenal are…. all style and no substance spring to mind!

          • Blueboydave

            I take the point you are making – but in truth chances created often don’t tell us much.

            Not many would say our recent West Ham performance [38 chances, 12 on target, result 0-0] was “better” than v the Spuds [12 chances, 4 on target, result 4-0].

          • Cunningplan

            Stats have always been slightly misleading in my book, possession stats are a prime example, but as you say my point being is that we don’t always just sit back and wait for teams to attack so we can counter. My view is that our tactics/formations change depending on who we play, we didn’t counter attack against West Ham because they didn’t attack us in the first place, so we had to take the initiative.

            With regard performances as you pointed out above with WH and Spurs the only stat that matters are the goals scored, as in all games.

    • GrocerJack

      Assuming you’re not a Chelsea fan and trying to play authors advocate here, I can only assume you’re
      a.) A Spurs fan
      b.) A Rugby fan
      c.) A complete football numpty.
      d.) All of the above

      To be generous I’ve gone for option d.

      Boring? 4-0? A plus 34 goal difference? The 3rd best in the division? Conceding only 22 all season, again the best defence in the division. And all of this without the prolific strikers Liverpool and Citeh have?

      And my you’re funny, I mean that hilarious ‘Boreinho’ tag. Did your mates at kindergarten help you come up with in a wet playtime?

      And finally, classless? Mourinho? Can you point out to me and the readership where it states in any rule book or etiquette guide that the coach must stay on the pitch until the end? He left with one minute remaining and a 4 goal lead, and he COURTEOUSLY went and shook Sherwood et al’s hand. Seems quite a nice thing to do. But this ‘classless’ accusation bollocks drives me mad. Where the fuck do you think football is played? On the grounds of the Wooster polo estate? Should the coaches wear dinner suits and address each other as Mister? Or ‘kindest sir’ ? For fucks sake it’s football, get a grip. Amongst sports it’s still primarily a game for the working and middle class. It’s no better than many, but it’s certainly no worse than many other sports (ball tampering anyone? eye gouging anyone? fake blood anyone? Doping anyone?)

      Anyway, shouldn’t you be at school now?

      • Mark

        Oh Grocer Jack, you have just made my day. Boy did you bite. Rugby fan; goal difference; kindergarten; capital letters; swear words. And, of course, it was Mourinho who did the eye gouging. Brilliant

        • PeteW

          ‘Made you bite’ really is one of the internet’s most pathetic memes. It basically means, ‘ I know I I came on here spouting hogwash but I don’t meant it because I was only trying to wind you up and my life is empty and unfulfilling and I have no original thoughts, so please don’t hate me.’

          At least have the courage of your convictions. If you are going to talk the big talk, back it up, don’t back down at the first sign of disagreement. It’s pathetic.

          ‘Classless little man’ you say. The hypocrisy is manifest.

          • Mark

            I meant every word. See my response to Ramone’s sensible reply. Simply making the point that Grocer Jack responded by being insulting and foul mouthed. Being lucky enough to support Abramovich (rather than the Mighty Os) I was expecting so much more from them and the eye gouger is a classless little man which is such a shame as he has no need to be like this and Ramone brings a sensible perspective to Mourinho’s behaviour. Football fans don’t detest him just because he’s manager of Abramovich – there is more to it than that. He simply and deliberately decides who he is going to insult, abuse or assault next. Suaraz bit someone and there was outrage – Mourinho walked onto the field and stuck his finger in a coach’s eye. Calling Wenger a serial loser was pathetic and unnecessary. Mourinho turned Wenger’s sensible response to ‘why don’t the other coaches want to say they are in the title race’ to being all about him, as usual when it was also about the idiot at Mansour and Rodgers at Liverpool. Mourinho will be remembered with hatred by most football fans; Clough is remembered with affection. Mourinho will be remembered for winning at all costs in the main playing functional football and waiting for the opposition to lose. He is in a league of 2 teams. If he can beat Mansour next season playing glorious free flowing football I will doff my cap and sing his praises. There are only 2 teams in England who can now win the league so at least win it with style for us neutrals. (And come and watch Orient some time – we knock it about beautifully.) Liverpool and Mansour are playing some wonderful football – can you really say that your team is?

          • Der_Kaiser

            Strange to spend so much time being concerned with how much another team’s manager will be despised and/or remembered – I’ll quote our terribly despicable manager and suggest that you sound like a bit of a voyeur.

            Shame you didn’t enjoy your trip to see what was a very enjoyable and (initially) tight London derby – we had a cracking afternoon and speaking personally, I’m thoroughly enjoying the season.

            Perhaps you should have taken the trip up to Meadow Lane instead of spending what was clearly such a terrible afternoon with us classless foul-mouthed oiks?

          • PeteW

            What a bizarre waste of energy. I find it baffling that anybody should care so much about somebody they have never met. You are a typical Sky Sports fan, desperate for something, anything, to be offended by to the extent you will scrutinise the touchline so you can record the exact moment at which one manager shakes another manager’s hand. Extraordinary and rather pathetic. It makes me think of Mary Whitehouse.

            As for style of football, I personally appreciate all kinds as long as it is done well – from Wimbledon’s 80s long ball to Man United’s end-to-end Fergie-inspired wingplay – and I love Mourinho’s brutal, focused, powerplay, laced as it with with the metronomic passing of Matic, the brilliantly marshalled defence of John Terry and the sheer genius of Eden Hazard. Clearly you have a more limited concept of what counts as entertainment – again, a classic symptom of the Sky Sports new fan – but if you cannot see the fun in beating a hated rival 4-0, I rather pity you.

            That said, I do find it rather perplexing that you genuinely believe that at this stage of the season and with a title in sight, Chelsea should be in the business of entertaining neutrals. With respect, fuck that. We are more than happy to leave it to City, who were, I have to concede, extraordinarily entertaining against Wigan. I’m sure that will be of great solace to their supporters.

  2. limetreebower

    The title is still very much pink, cool and juicy on the inside, and coated with a fine layer of dust.

    We’re certain to drop points in the remaining games. It’s just a question of how many, and whether Citeh blow it by dropping more.

    That game was a fine illustration of why we’ll drop points, too. If there’s such a thing as a lucky 4-0, that was it. Energy is visibly running low, and given that we’re likely to progress in the Champions League we have at least three more midweek games to come. Cech, the back four and Matic are playing superbly, but the front four are still a work in progress, and there’s an obvious gap between the way the team’s trying to play — defensive stability with very rapid transition to fast-paced counterattack — and the way they played for most of the game: misplaced passes and long balls under pressure.

    I can’t agree with the judgment that it’s boring to watch. It’s patient, intelligent, purposeful, and — done properly — fantastically dynamic. The problem is (at the moment) that the team’s not there yet: there’s a sense of effort rather than swift easy execution. But if you compare it to the aimless nonsense being dished up this time last year, I’d a million times rather have José’s sheer intelligence than the Rafa “let’s-all-pass-it-around-and-see-what-happens” version of trying to be a bit like Barcelona. Poor as we were yesterday, it was an awful lot better than the ghastliness of the Europa Cup final last May. At least yesterday you could see what they were trying to do, and get glimpses of how incisive and skilful it is when it works.

    No argument with the proposition that Mourinho’s a genius, though. And even if I was a neutral I’m pretty sure I’d be much more enthused by his rather sulphurous charisma than the old-fashioned bullying methods of Ferguson, the other indisputable genius of recent years.

  3. Mike12

    Actually, I thought yesterday’s performance was good. We were solid, so when Spurs had the better of the game, in the first half, we kept them out, and then dealt our decisive blows when we had opportunity to in the second. Still a fair way off of being the finished product, but these signs are good.

    After the first game, Jose said that he initially wasn’t happy, because we had half an hour of excellent football, but an hour where we didn’t live up to that. He then realised that it was unrealistic to expect that level of high quality, and consistency, right off the bat.

    I think we should view this game in the same light. We managed to get an excellent result, and played in patches of very high quality, and still remain solid in those patches that we played below that level.

    As we progress from what we are now, and become something like Mourinho’s vision for us, we can produce that high level of performance, for longer periods, more consistently, and in the meantime, it’s important that periods like that first half an hour against Hull, the second half against Fulham, and bits of the second half yesterday, are supplemented by solidity, and patience, like yesterday.

  4. WorkingClassPost

    Not sure I get any of this.

    We could’ve been a couple of goals up in the first few minutes and Spuds only took strength from remaining in the game beyond 10 minutes.

    I didn’t see an Eto’o dive, a harsh red card yes, but even a clumsy miss-control, when followed by an even clumsier collision, is a penalty for sure.

    We can only play the team that’s in front of us, and it’s no coincidence that we play better against better sides. For all Spuds possession, they weren’t exactly inspiring and seemed setup just to frustrate us (and any spectator hoping for a football feast).

    Anyway, neutrals and opponents can take whatever they want from the game, as long as we take the points.

  5. Ramone

    OK then. I’ll go first.

    Villa 1 – 0 Chelsea. Rambling thoughts.

    We chucked it away.

    When Jose brought Shirley on for Oscar he was obviously in two minds. Which Brazillian shall I pull ? Willian or Oscar ? Oscar or Willian ? Willian’s got a booking so let’s haul him off. Oh, second thoughts , Willian’s a sensible lad. He’ll not get booked again. Promise me you’ll not get booked again. Ok boss. Let’s get Oscar off. He’s been cr*p again. Done.

    Jose must be kicking himself. Willian betrayed his trust, took a chance he should never have taken and walked the red card trudge of Shame. I wonder what Jose said to him.

    And whilst Jose might be making a fuss about the ref (true, on another day Willlian may have got away with his second booking, and we may have not gone one down and Ramires may not have jumped on the bloke’s leg) he’s really just hoping that the next ref will be good to us vesrus the Arse.

    Ramires was a red card all day every day. An idiotic lunge from a
    frustrated player in a frustrated team with a frustrated manager and
    frustrated fans. We should never have lost this game. We threw it
    away. And we now carry the suspensions forward.

    Will we win it ? I thought we needed to avoid defeat at Liverpool and Villa to be in with a chance and with Liverpool, Arse and Man C now out of everything we will be stretched – Tuesday victory assumed – whilst they will be lapping up the rest days.
    I am still hoping a lot. But not quite believing as much. We must beat the Arse.

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