Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0: Blues boost Maurizio Sarri with win over Tottenham

Action between Chelsea and Spurs at stamford Bridge

Action between Chelsea and Spurs at stamford Bridge

Maurizio Sarri was given a Chelsea lifeline as they dragged London rivals Tottenham into a battle for the top four on a predictably fiery night at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian proclaimed that he had ‘sent a message’ to his players with what could have been his final selection as Chelsea manager, the Wembley villain, Kepa Arrizabalaga, did not feature among the starters.

chelsea Keeper celebrates win
chelsea Keeper celebrates win

Having reclaimed some sort of authority, Sarri was surely handed more time in west London by Pedro’s second half strike and Kieran Trippier’s astounding own goal.

Chelsea began quickly, Gonzalo Higuain rattling Hugo Lloris’ upright before bending one wide of the far post after the Frenchman’s ball from the back had landed at the feet of Pedro.

Ruben Loftus- cheek battle for the ball with Spurs Harry Kane
Ruben Loftus- cheek battle for the ball with Spurs Harry Kane

Spurs appeared shaken. Uncharacteristic mistakes at the back and a string of misplaced passes going forward kept the pressure on.

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Sarri’s side, however, could not take advantage as the visitors grew into the contest, which looked to be veering in the direction of the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’ from 2016 when David Luiz and Harry Kane confronted each other in the Chelsea box.

Chelsea players celebrate win
Chelsea players celebrate win

Tottenham were holding firm at the back but could not move the ball quickly enough on the break without the craft and vision of Dele Alli, their best chance coming when Harry Winks struck the bar just before the interval with Spurs on top.

Their spell did not carry across the break, however. Chelsea was in control again and thought they were ahead when Higuain dinked home, only for the offside flag to keep his Premier League tally at two.

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Action between Chelsea and Spurs at Stamford Bridge
Action between Chelsea and Spurs at stamford Bridge

The home fans didn’t have to wait long though. With Willian being readied on the touchline, Pedro took his chance. Latching onto Cesar Azpilicueta’s ball down the right, the Spaniard cut inside Toby Alderweireld, rather too easily, before firing through the legs of Lloris. Stamford Bridge sung his name, while Eden Hazard’s was the number raised to make way for Willian.

Tottenham continued to look for a way through. Mauricio Pochettino, who had challenged his players by declaring they remained five years off from having the mentality to win titles this week, turned to Fernando Llorente to keep any flicker hope of a three horse race in the Premier League alive for this season, but he could not getter the better of the unrelenting Luiz and Antonio Rudiger.

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Chelsea had played 120 minutes against Manchester City on Sunday, but on the evidence of tonight Tottenham looked the more overworked, jaded of the two. None more so than when Trippier, picking up the ball from Olivier Giroud’s innocuous flick on, rolled the ball past Lloris and into his own net, his face a picture of sheer bemusement.

Whether the Chelsea players were playing for their manager or simply personal pride remains to be seen, and perhaps will not matter to the Italian for now. One thing, though, is for certain, regardless of what happens off the field, they remain well in the running for the top four which, for Tottenham, is becoming increasingly uncertain.

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