Nine-man Spurs are undone by Blues

Brian Jeeves

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

Tottenham Hotspur 1-4 Chelsea

Nine-man Spurs saw their unbeaten sequence concluded as London rivals Chelsea came from behind to win an eventful Premier League encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Nicolas Jackson netting a hat trick.

Tottenham boss, Ange Postecoglou, recognised the importance of the game which had given his side a chance to reclaim their place at the top of the table: “Anytime you play in these kind of games you look forward to them,” the Australian enthused. 

“The atmosphere will be great, we’re at home, brilliant for us, all of our home games so far have been fairly exciting, real engagement from our supporters. I’m looking forward to it, it should be another big night for us.

“We don’t want to turn it into an individual battle because they have players who can really hurt you, quality all over the park, but, so far, we’ve been really good in home games, making it difficult for all opposition, limiting their ability to hurt us and also being threatening the other way.”

The match marked the return of former Spurs boss, Mauricio Pocchettino, now struggling to make consistent headway in a similar role at Chelsea. 

With such a wretched record in these encounters, it’s unusual for Tottenham to start against Chelsea in the position of favourites. But it took them just six minutes to make the breakthrough. Dejan Kulusevski’s shot deflected off Levi Cowill, wrong-footing Roberto Sanchez. N17 simply exploded.

Spurs survived a scare when Jackson tip-toed into a shooting position, only for Guglielem Vicario to brilliantly turn aside his effort. Meanwhile, a lengthy VAR check denied the home side a second. Heung-min Son was deemed off-side by the narrowest of margins after finding the net following Brennan Johnson’s centre.

Udogie was perhaps lucky to escape with only a booking following a two-footed lung towards Raheem Sterling. Meanwhile, Sterling’s celebrations were cut short after another VAR call showed a handball a fraction before the frontman lifted over Vicario. Nevertheless, Chelsea had found their feet.

The contest had become somewhat spikey. Moises Caicedo thought he’d levelled the score. Again, VAR was called in. The goal was chalked off, but in the ensuing madness, Romero was red-carded and Chelsea awarded a penalty for a foul on Enzo Fernandez. Cole Palmer fired home the resulting spot-kick, left-footed, via an upright. 

The tide appeared to be turning against Tottenham. Micky van de Ven was forced off after pulling up clutching his hamstring, while James Maddison followed him down the tunnel after falling awkwardly in the box.

Understandably, Chelsea was now enjoying the better of proceedings, launching wave after wave of attacks, while Spurs were forced to counter. Tottenham’s task was made even harder when Udogie became the second Spurs man dismissed, picking up a second booking for a foul on Sterling nine minutes after the restart.

It was a case of all hands to the pump with Spurs hanging on for dear life. Vicario raced from his goal to thwart Sterling and Jackson. The home crowd – to a number – gave the nine men every encouragement. Meanwhile, Vicario was again in the thick of the action, this time, saving at the feet of Blues substitute Marc Cucurella after the visitors had sprung Tottenham’s off-side trap.

But the home side couldn’t continually stem the tide. Jackson rolled home after Sterling had broken through and centred. VAR took an unnecessary check, but Chelsea had the lead.

The crowd had long since lost patience with those at Stockley Park. Eric Dier’s volley was chalked off following another lengthy look. The bemused audience is now more concerned over missing their last train home as opposed to the result of the match.

Bentancur passed up a glorious opportunity to score an unlikely leveller for Tottenham, who had incredibly hung in the game. Meanwhile, Son was denied by Sanchez before Jackson killed the contest at the other end from close range.

Jackson raced clear to claim the match ball before the end. Totteham’s resistance had been brave, but they’d ultimately, with a numerical disadvantage, run out of steam. Chelsea’s margin of victory was harsh on the home side, who were applauded from the field for their efforts at the final whistle.

Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action on Saturday, November 11 when they face the stranded Vicario. Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux (12:30pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Vicario, Pedro Porro, Romero, van de Ven (Hojbjerg 45+1′), Udogie, Bissouma, Sarr (Bentancur 61′), Maddison (Royal 45+1′), Kulusevski (Skipp 61′), Son (Capt), Johnson (Dier 34′) Subs not used: Forster (GK), Skipp, Lo Celso, Bryan, Richarlison

Booked: Udogie (foul), Sarr (foul)

Sent-Off: Romero (foul), Udogie (foul – second yellow card)

Goals: Kulusevski 6′

Chelsea: Sanchez, James (Capt) (Gusto 77′), Thiago Silva, Disasi, Colwill (Cucurella 46′), Fernandez (Mudryk 58′), Gallagher, Caicedo, Palmer, Sterling (Ugochukwu 90+1′), Jackson Subs not used: Petrovic (GK), Maatsen, Badiashile, Ugochukwu, Washington

Booked: Colwill (foul), Jackson (foul), Gusto (foul), Ugochukwu (foul), Jackson (foul)

Goals: Palmer (penalty) 35′, Jackson 75′, 90+5′, 90+7′

Referee: Michael Oliver

Assistants: Stuart Burt and Dan Cook 

Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall

VAR: John Brooks

Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan

Attendance: 61,726


Brian Jeeves