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Mark Clattenburg..

Mark Clattenburg makes stunning admonition about the 'Battle of the Bridge'

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No matter what Tottenham achieve in coming years, they'll struggle to live down coming third in a two horse race in 2016.

Seemingly the only realistic challenger to Leicester City's fairytale, Spurs crashed and burned in the final months of the season with bitter rivals Arsenal somehow usurping them on the final day. A 5-1 thumping by freshly relegated Newcastle United compounded their late season flop.

There was no clearer demonstration of Spurs losing their nerve than the pivotal clash at Stamford Bridge, which finally handed Leicester the Premier League title.

Tottenham looked set to keep the title race alive, leading 2-0 at half-time with goals from Harry Kane and Heung-min Son before allowing Chelsea to hit back after the break.

Gary Cahill gave the Blues hope after half-time with Eden Hazard hammering the final nail in the coffin with just seven minutes to play, defying Hugo Lloris with a superb curled finish.

And it's fair to say Tottenham weren't happy. The game endures with the nickname 'The Battle of the Bridge' with only two starting Spurs players - Lloris and Son - avoiding a yellow card.

The north London club was slapped with a £250,000 fine and Moussa Dembele was handed a six match ban for pushing his finger into Diego Costa's eye.

Mark Clattenburg had the rather unenviable job of officiating the fracas and has opened up on one of the Premier League's dirtiest matches in a remarkably honest interview with NBC's Men in Blazers.

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Let's just say his reasoning for not brandishing a red card is, well, interesting.

The 42-year-old explained: "I allowed them [Spurs] to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world went: 'Tottenham lost the title.'

"If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines? 'Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title.' It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title.

"I helped the game. I certainly benefited the game by my style of refereeing.

"Some referees would have played by the book; Tottenham would have been down to seven or eight players and probably lost and they would've been looking for an excuse.

"But I didn't give them an excuse, because my gameplan was: Let them lose the title."

Here's how Twitter reacted:

You can't exactly fault him for honesty. Clattenburg likely had the right intentions with his comments but it's easy to see how his verdict could be criticised.

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Dishing out red cards could have easily exacerbated the situation at the Bridge and given extra motivation for players to throw polemics in his direction. 

Arsenal fans will certainly love his joy at Tottenham's schadenfreude, mind. 

Do you think Tottenham will win the Premier League under Mauricio Pochettino? Have your say in the comments section below.

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