Blues batter the Lilywhites
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea had picked up the most points at home in the Premier League this season going into the early March London derby with Tottenham Hotspur as the Blues had not been beaten by Spurs at Stamford Bridge in twenty four years. Fernando Torres was an early casualty after pulling out of the warm up and was replaced by Samuel Eto’o, who felt the brunt of a sliding challenge by Hugo Lloris in the opening thirty seconds as Eto’o required treatment despite going through in an offside position from Eden Hazard’s through ball. Then on three minutes, Eto’o exchanged passes with Hazard, who rounded Lloris but lost control as his strike drifted away from the top right hand side of the goal. On thirteen minutes, the Lilywhites pressed forward after a knock down from Emmanuel Adebayor played through Nabil Bentaleb, but the Spurs playmaker could only drive the ball wide of the right post. Midway through the first half, Gary Cahill’s half hit clearance was met with a sweetly struck stinging low volley by Sandro which at full stretch, Petr Cech kept the ball out with a reaction save that matched the measure of Sandro’s cleanly hit connection. On twenty eight minutes, a Sandro tug on Eto’o resulted in Frank Lampard’s free kick being driven towards Nemanja Matic whose towering header went over and this was followed a minute later with Eto’o charging towards the Spurs defence but the Blues striker was unable to apply the finishing touch. Before the start of the second half, Oscar replaced Lampard. A minute into the re-start, a mazy run by Jan Vertonghen ended with a crafted chip that rose over the upright, as the Spurs centre half took an advanced role. The Lilywhites were on the ascendancy again on forty eight minutes from another defensive figure, as Younes Kaboul’s header was charged down by Cech from a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner. Finally the deadlock was broken on fifty six minutes, after a complete howler by Vertonghen, as he fell to the floor and after losing control played a lame back pass into the path of Eto’o, which was gratefully received as Eto’o tucked the ball past Lloris to give the Blues the advantage. The game had turned as one goal soon became two when on the hour mark, Hazard’s square pass resulted in Kaboul dragging Eto’o down and getting a straight red card as referee Michael Oliver awarded Chelsea a penalty which was comfortably put away by Hazard from the spot into the right side of the goal. Spurs were then forced to change Sigurdsson for Paulinho and the Blues also took off Andre Schurrle for Willian. Tottenham were then delivered another blow as they lost their club captain Michael Dawson to injury as Zeki Fryers took over while Chelsea soon gave Demba Ba the striker’s role in favour of Eto’o. A fine move between Hazard and Willian was spoilt at the end as Oscar blazed over in the eight second minute. Two minutes from normal time, Ba added a third as Sandro tumbled in the area, giving Ba the easy chance of scoring from close range, after Hazard had supplied Oscar, who in turn set up the goal for Ba. Within sixty seconds, more shambolic defending by Spurs was again their downfall as Kyle Walker’s header back, unsettled Lloris, who lost control as Ba won the battle to add a fourth by body checking Lloris before tumbling the ball in as the comprehensive victory gave Chelsea a seven points lead at the top of the table.