Tottenham Hotspur ended Chelsea’s attempt to make Premier League history of 14 successive victories as they defeated them 2-0 at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.
Spurs moved up to third spot in the Premier League table owing to the brilliance of Dele Alli, who scored a brace in either half against Chelsea. With the loss, Chelsea were five points ahead of Liverpool, who are in second place on the table and face high-flying Manchester United next week at Old Trafford.
The London derby had plenty of rigour, but lacked precision. In fact, it was Alli’s fine header before the first half that left White Hart Lane crazy, and a sense of optimisim surrounded around the stadium that Chelsea’s 13-match winning run could come to an end, finally.
After just five minutes, Eden Hazard spurned a great chance to give Blues the lead from a Nemanja Matic’s pin-point cross. After receiving the ball perfectly on the left-flank, the Belgian attacker dragged his left-footed shot across Hugo Lloris and wide of the far post, after his compatriot Jan Vertonghen had played him onside.
That was the only flaw from Tottenham’s three men defence Mauricio Pochettino had fielded, identical to Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. Pochettino’s 3-4-2-1 formation was a big gamble with Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele in the midfield to shield the defence. Many doubted the Argentinian’s tactics of shifting to three-man defence against the in-form league leaders, but after the blow of the final whistle, it proved out to be a tactical masterclass.
Following Hazard’s miss, Tottenham grew into the game and controlled the tempo. Full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose attacked from wings to disjoint the resolute Chelsea defence, which made the visitors resort to aerial balls. But nothing materialized for Conte’s men, and instead, they fell 1-0 behind before half-time; thanks to Alli’s superb header.
Conte’s Chelsea, however after the break, came out all guns blazing and searched for an equalizer. They attacked and looked to penetrate whenever going forward, but lacked the cutting edge. Just when Chelsea were growing in the game, Tottenham scored—a twin header from Alli from a twin assist by industrious Christian Eriksen.
It was harsh for the visitors to go 2-0 behind, just when they seemed to pass the ball quickly with accuracy and create spaces behind the Spurs’ defence. But that was the reality for Conte, who brought in Willian for Marcos Alonso to add more bite in the attack. For the last 10 minutes, even Michy Batshuayi came on to destabilize Spurs’ defence, but in all fairness, they were never really threatened.
Tottenham’s victory halted Chelsea and their persistent march to the Premier League title. Conte’ s men were running away in the league with 13 wins on a trot, but Pochettino’s tactics worked wonders and three points against arch-rivals in front of the faithfuls will give his men a mountain of confidence.