Impressive Spurs enhance their top-four hopes with derby success

Brian Jeeves

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Report

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Chelsea 

Impressive Tottenham Hotspur piled the pressure on Chelsea boss Graham Potter as well as enhanced their hopes of a Champions League berth with a routine victory over the out-of-sorts West Londoners in N17.

You never quite know what you will get from Tottenham these days: “We need to play consistently from the start until the end, with a good pace, well organised and try to do our best, and then we’ll see what happens,” stand-in boss Cristian Stellini explained.

Having already overseen victories over Manchester City and West Ham United while Antonio Conte continues to recoup from surgery, Stellini had little to worry about as his side ensured his one-hundred per cent record continued.

Generally a spiky encounter, things threatened to boil over in the opening minutes when players from both sides came together after Raheem Stirling went to ground somewhat easily when challenged by Oliver Skipp. Referee, Stuart Attwell dealt with the situation. Chelsea’s penalty appeals were correctly waved away.

Nevertheless, Chelsea had made a comfortable start. Enzo Fernandez attempted to pick out Joao Felix. The Portuguese frontman was a whisker away from reaching the Argentine’s exquisite pass.

Exchanges were frantic but scruffy. Felix warmed the palms of Fraser Forster. Meanwhile, Harry Kane dragged wide of the target as Spurs responded. 

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was agonisingly close to opening the scoring when his deflected effort cannoned off the foot of a post with Blues stopper, Kepa stranded. Kepa’s theatrics following a coming together with Kane drew further displeasure from the home crowd, as well as a ticking-off from whistler Attwell. 

The contest continued to frustrate. Richarlison’s angled attempt was wayward, while Chelsea’s early spark appeared to have deserted them. Sterling attempted to redress the situation, but Forster clawed out his speculative strike from eighteen yards.

Confusion took hold when Hakim Ziyech was sent off following an ill-advised slap on Emerson Royal. VAR called the Blues man back, and his punishment was reduced to a yellow card, much to the bemusement of the agitated audience.

But the game came to life seconds after the restart. Chelsea failed to clear their lines. Oliver Skipp picked up the pieces before rifling beyond Kepa from twenty yards.

Forster dived at the feet of Havertz to preserve Tottenham’s advantage. But Chelsea appeared to have run short of ideas. Richarlison’s curling effort was too high as the home side looked to finish the job.

And with ten minutes remaining, Spurs doubled their lead. Kane arrived at the far post to perform the formalities after Eric Dier had flicked on Heung-min Son’s flag kick, cementing a rare, but welcome three points against their bitter rivals. 

With Newcastle United involved in the Carabao Cup final, Spurs opened up a four-point advantage in the race for a top-four place. The North Londoners now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup where they face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Wednesday, March 1 in a fifth-round tie (7:45pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Forster, Romero, Dier, Lenglet, Royal, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Davies, Kulusevski (Son 79′), Richarlison (Pedro Porro 89′), Kane (Capt) Subs not used: Austin (GK), Tanganga, Sanchez, Perisic, Sarr, Danjuma, Lucas

Booked: Royal (foul), Davies (foul)

Goals: Skipp 46′, Kane 81′

Chelsea: Kepa, James, Thiago Silva (Capt) (Fofana 19′), Koulibaly, Chilwell, Enzo Fernandez, Loftus-Cheek (Mount 62′), Sterling (Aubameyang 83′), Joao Felix (Mudryk 83′), Ziyech (Zakaria 62′), Havertz Subs not used: Bettinelli, Badiashile, Gallagher, Madueke

Booked: Ziyech (foul), Havertz (foul), Mount (dissent)

Goals: None

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Assistants: Darren Cann and James Mainwaring

Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh

VAR: Paul Tierney

Assistant VAR: Simon Long

Attendance: 61,613


Brian Jeeves