The frenzy Chelsea fans were sent into when the line-ups were announced now seem a distant memory following an incredible performance from the players and coaching staff alike. The definition of a tactical masterclass, Frank Lampard contributed to the anxiety of Chelsea fans by opting to play a 3-4-3 system, with Azpilicueta and Alonso as wing-backs. He also benched Jorginho and Pulisic, causing a bit of commotion among the fan community. While most fans were not particularly optimistic about this game, the lineup made us fear the worst; a humiliation at hands of Jose and Tottenham.
This pessimism quickly turned into hope as Chelsea dominated the game right from the first whistle. Hope finally completed its evolution into elation as Willian scored a fantastic goal from a well worked short corner, just 12 minutes into the game. The bar of expectation, had however been set low as we have struggled against the ‘big six’ this season, particularly defensively. We had also recently squandered a lead at the Etihad and ended up losing the game despite our best efforts, which kept bringing Chelsea fans down to earth from their wild celebrations.
However, after a solid display by our centre back trio of Rudiger, Zouma and Tomori, Chelsea continued to dominate the game while hardly conceding any clear cut chances. Just before the half time whistle, a shocking decision by the referee Anthony Taylor to deny Marcos Alonso a penalty was reversed by VAR, Gazzaniga the guilty party. A challenge which could easily be classified as a red in the eyes of many, the goalkeeper escaped with a booking. In the absence of Jorginho, Willian stepped up and put away the penalty calmly to send us into the break two goals to the good. By now, Chelsea fans were in wonderland, beating Spurs in their own backyard, with Jose’s recent comments only sweetening the deal.
The north London outfit did inevitably get reduced to 10 men after VAR decided to show a red card to Tottenham’s South Korean superstar Son Hueng-Min in the 62nd min for a dangerous foul on Rudiger. The shred of hope in every Spurs fan’s heart was extinguished following this decision, and this unfortunately reflected in a poor manner with water bottles getting thrown onto the pitch and disgusting racism directed towards the German centre-back. The Chelsea captain Azpilicueta made sure this got the referee’s attention and standard protocol was followed, with CCTV footage being analysed to punish the perpetrator.
This incident overshadowed a perfect performance from the Blues, dominating Spurs from start to finish and allowing them the only one solitary shot on target. The “Master vs Apprentice” game ended with the apprentice outwitting the master for a second time, after Lampard’s Derby eliminated Jose’s United on penalties last season in the Carabao Cup. Once called “the special one” affectionately, Jose Mourinho took this defeat with a pinch of salt which was evident in his post match press conference, where he seemed to praise Antonio Conte’s system more than Lampard’s implementation. He also sarcastically stated that he hopes Rudiger recovers soon from his ‘broken ribs’ not holding back his displeasure at Son’s dismissal.
His opposite number, none other than Super Frank Lampard could hardly hold back his joy in his celebrations and was beaming with pride in his press conference, and rightly so. He completely outsmarted and outwitted one of the greatest tactical minds of this era. Huge credit also to the back room staff and Jody Morris in particular who celebrated his birthday today with a memorable win. This also ends the social media fiasco between the Chelsea assistant coach and the Portuguese, where the former seemed to be mocking the latter on his comments about Chelsea’s season so far.
The first (of many) victories at the newly constructed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Jose was unbeaten at since his appointment. One of the many reasons this game will be remembered for years to come, our focus should now shift onto our Boxing Day clash against Southampton before heading to the Emirates for another London Derby.