Tottenham’s best laid plans unravelled in four crazy minutes at Chelsea as two quick goals and a red card for Younes Kaboul sent them on their way to a 4-0 defeat, and sent the home side seven points clear at the top of the table.
Spurs boss Tim Sherwood opted for an unorthodox approach, with winger Aaron Lennon starting initially up front and the in-form Emmanuel Adebayor on the right.
The north London side haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1990, and the early indications were that they would have to wait at least one more game to end that run.
There’s no love lost between these two teams and the excitement in the crowd before kick-off certainly seemed to translate on the pitch, with both sides looking to start quickly.
It was Chelsea who immediately got the upper hand however as Eto’o, in for Fernando Torres who was injured in the warm up, raced through from Eden Hazard’s ball after a Spurs mistake. In the end he was pulled up for offside but it was certainly a sign of what was to come.
Another chance fell Chelsea’s way when Eto’o pounced on another mistake by Spurs to play through Hazard, but the in-form Belgian could only fire wide with just four minutes on the clock.
Eventually Spurs settled into their rhythm and started to retain possession to frustrate Chelsea, forging their first real chance of the game when Adebayor’s flick found Bentaleb on the left. However the Algerian international could only scuff his shot wide with around quarter of an hour gone.
The visitors were on the front foot and Sandro then tested Cech with a fine volley - but once again Chelsea were quick to pounce on a slip-up from Spurs, with Eto’o firing wide after Bentaleb gifted away possession not long after Gary Cahill had headed just over from a set piece on the half hour mark.
The game maintained the same tempo and flow after the break, with Tottenham looking to press forward and Chelsea looking to counter. Kaboul went close with a header after 50 minutes.
From then on the game changed. With 56 minutes gone, Vertonghen received the ball at the back, only to slip while trying to turn.
His attempt to swipe the ball away only played in Eto’o who tucked his shot beyond Lloris. His ‘old man’ celebration was a clear nod to those, including Jose Mourinho, who seem to doubt his age.
Bang on the hour mark Chelsea were pouring forward again. Hazard wiggled clear on the left and flashed the ball across the penalty area. Eto’o was waiting in the middle only for the slightest touch from Kaboul to send him tumbling. Oliver pointed to the spot and pointed Kaboul to the changing room. Replays suggest the decision was a harsh one.
Tottenham were facing a pretty much impossible task from there and so it proved. After Oscar had blazed over, substitute Demba Ba pounced on another slip from a Tottenham player, this time Sandro, to tuck home with two minutes remaining.
As if it couldn't get any worse, not long after the restart Kyle Walker headed back towards his own goal from around the halfway line without realising that Ba was lurking behind Lloris.
The striker nipped in front and the beat Spurs’ goalkeeper to the ball and tucked home, rounding off a thoroughly disastrous second half for Tim Sherwood and his beleaguered men.
Mourinho has maintained that his side aren't title contenders, but with Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal otherwise engaged this weekend, they now have room to breathe at the top.
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