Chelsea stood 6 points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur after defeating them in the pre-Christmas Premier League London derby. Now that gap has been reduced to only one. With the fourth-spot slipping from their hands, Frank Lampard’s side are desperate to defeat Jose Mourinho’s side to extend that gap once again.
They did so with conviction, picking up a hard-fought 2-1 win to go four points clear of their North-London rivals and solidifying their 4th spot at the same time.
The Blues started the game in blistering fashion and took the lead in the 15th-minute when Olivier Giroud justified his selection with a thunderous finish from short-range. After an eventful first-half, Chelsea started the second-half high on adrenaline and after a beautiful passing move, Marcos Alonso’s powerful drive made it 2-0 in the 49th-minute.
Just when it seemed that they’d sail to a comfortable win, an 89th-minute own-goal from Antonio Rudiger set up a fiery finish. But Chelsea ended up holding their nerve to pick up a big win which ensures they’ll remain 4th this weekend & gives them confidence before the mid-week Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
Chelsea Player Ratings
Frank Lampard (7.5) –
Lampard took a few calculated risks in not starting Willian, who won them the reverse-fixture, and playing Ross Barkley instead. But his selections were spot on today. Trust in Oliver Giroud finally paid off and Barkley was influential in the win as well.
Blocked out Spurs’ counter-attacking approach really well, ensured his side maintained their quick tempo and capitalized on Spurs’ defenders vulnerability against fast-pace moves. Outwits his mentor once again!
Willy Caballero (6.5) –
His third successive start in as many league games! Made a terrific save to deny Moura in the 10th. Tipped over Sanchez’s looping header in the 35th. Bit unlucky to concede that late own-goal, but Caballero was pretty solid in his role. Thwarted whatever thrown at him and most importantly didn’t make any mistake! Kepa isn’t getting his place back anytime soon if this continues.
Reece James (6.0) –
James is operating more an advanced winger than right-back today. Not really as threatening with his crosses as usually is. But he held his own down by the side, nullifying Spurs flow through his side and working well alongside his captain.
Cesar Azpilicueta (7.5) –
Captain Azpi has added responsibilities to cover for James. Made a terrific block off Moura’s goalbound shot in the 34th. Played a part leading upto the second-goal, tipping the ball to Mount. Should’ve seen Lo Celso sent off after a shocking stamp on him minutes after.
Azpi was relentless with his work, pressing Spurs to make timely interceptions and making an ample number of clearances to sniff out danger. Owned the right-wing and marshalled his troops confidently in a rock-solid captain’s performance.
Andreas Christensen (7.0) –
Playing with a mask on, Christensen looks composed with his early work. Mistimed his challenge allowing Moura’s 10th-minute shot. Got booked in the 65th for cynically bringing down Moura. But apart from those errors, he was pretty solid in clamping down Spurs attempts to go past him. Made solid challenges, found himself in the right positions to frustrate the visitors.
Antonio Rudiger (5.0) –
Rudiger’s done pretty well in nullifying Bergwijn’s threat so far in the first half-hour. While he dealt with his threat very well, nullifying the Dutchman’s threat, his movement was often erratic. A lack of concentration also saw him score an own-goal to thwart his side’s clean-sheet chances.
Marcos Alonso (7.5) –
He always tends to excel against Spurs! Made an excellent through-ball for Mount’s early chance. Curled a shot barely over in the 23rd. But almost shot himself in the foot by allowing Tanganga to surge past him in the 35th towards almost scoring. Livened up again in the second half, scoring a beautiful strike with a perfect low drive.
Very unlucky to rattle the post with his sublime 82nd-minute free-kick. Comes back to haunt Spurs once again.
Jorginho (7.0) –
With no Kante beside him today, Jorginho must deal with the counter-attacks all by himself. But his distribution isn’t affected, as he played that terrific long-ball leading up to the opener. Apart from his impressive distribution from deep, Jorginho protected his backline really well in making timely challenges and didn’t allow Spurs much space to threaten with through the middle.
Mateo Kovacic (6.5) –
Kovacic is moving around the ball superbly onto the attacking areas. Making some clever incisive passes to open Spurs up. Controlled the tempo of the game really well, sparking some clever attacks with his impressive distribution and fighting hard to regain possession throughout.
Ross Barkley (7.0) –
A surprise start from the former Everton man. Looks charged up early on and powered a shot wide of the mark in the 13th. Unlucky to hit the bar which rebounded to Giroud’s goal. Hit the side-netting after another strong attempt in the 40th. Brilliantly laid out an assist for Alonso’s goal.
Then hit a tremendous curler in the 49th from an awkward-angle forcing a strong save from Lloris. Worked hard to press Spurs defenders and move into promising positions to open things up. Justified his selection.
Mason Mount (7.0) –
Mount looked to be fizzing with energy today. Made a terrific sprint into the area and saw his thunderous low shot saved in the 10th. Sought out Barkley superbly leading to Alonso’s strike. Set up a big scoring chance for Abraham after a stunning run in the 79th but unlucky to see it saved.
Troubled Spurs with his dribbles & tricky movement. Unlucky not to be rewarded with anything but this encouraging showing solidifies his spot for the Bayern game.
Olivier Giroud (7.5) –
Giroud finally starts! His first since November! Tormented Spurs defenders from the get-go with his movement and duly rewarded after orchestrating the move leading up to his strike, before powering the ball past Lloris. Hassled Spurs with his physicality & movement. His link-up play and work-rate were both top-notch as he proved Lampard why he must start more often with this superb showing.
Tammy Abraham (6.0) –
Got a big scoring chance minutes after coming on but his slight tip was well saved in the 79th.
Willian (N/R) –
The hero from the reverse-fixture came on with just about 15 minutes remaining and almost got in the scoresheet when his late attempte was saved by Lloris.
MAN OF THE MATCH
This has to come down between Giroud & Alonso. I’ll give this to Giroud as he destabilized Spurs shape throughout & scored that important early opener to breathe life onto Stamford Bridge. Really should be starting more often!