It was Monday night mayhem for Mauricio Pochettino on his Spurs return as he saw his Chelsea side come out 4-1 winners in a titanic tussle at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday evening.
Chaos and carnage was the order of the day in a Premier League classic with high challenges, elbows, penalties, injuries, red cards and fighting galore – and that was just the first half.
Spurs were rapid out of the traps and caught Chelsea cold, with a deflected Dujan Kulusevski strike opening the scoring in the 6th minute. Heung Min-Son would see a goal chalked off for offside, before a superb solo run and finish from Raheem Sterling was also chalked off by VAR.
What followed was pandemonium. Destiny Udogie could have seen red – as could defender Cristian Romero for kicking out at Levi Colwill. He did then later receive his marching orders in the 33rd minute with a vicious swipe at Sterling in the box – a screamer from Moises Caicedo being scrubbed from the record in the process.
The brilliant on the evening Cole Palmer stepped up and rifled home off the post from the resulting penalty to bring about parity. Nicolas Jackson thought he had put Chelsea ahead not long after until the offside flag spared Spurs’ blushes again. Then Blues captain Reece James was lucky not to be dismissed for an apparent flying elbow on the cusp of half-time, after a flurry of injuries for the hosts.
Udogie was dismissed not long after the break for a second yellow and then it was Spurs’ time in the trenches. Chelsea seemed to be trying too hard to force the issue, with Guglielmo Vicario channelling the spirit of Gigi Buffon to keep the hosts in the game with a cacophony of wonderful saves. Finally the resistance broke and the plucky Nicolas Jackson finally got his goal with 15 minutes remaining. Then another two in the final minute of regulation time for a hat trick out of nowhere.
An utterly breathless affair ended with Chelsea finally getting the better of a resilient nine-man Spurs. Next up for the Pensioners is the small matter of a visit from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Until then, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performances against Spurs this evening.
Robert Sanchez – 7/10
Not a great deal he could have done for Tottenham’s goal and that was about the sum of his efforts for the evening as Spurs had to throw every man behind the ball and hunker down. Decent distribution under pressure and big stop at the death to prevent an embarrassing 2-2 draw.
Reece James – 7/10 (77)
Slow to get the engine revving but he grew stronger as the going got dicey. Did not have the greatest understanding with colleague Palmer, which gave Spurs a lot of joy down the right flank in the early minutes. Lucky not to see red perhaps for a silly recoil of his elbow. Nice pass slipped in Sterling on the way to the winner.
Axel Disasi – 6/10
Offered scant little progression and had a few nervy moments when the Lilywhites got on the front foot.
Thiago Silva – 6/10
Not as involved as usual and his range was a little lacklustre compared to usual. Still defended with the minimum of fuss.
Levi Colwill – 4/10 (45)
Such latent and weak defending for the opener gave Kulusevski the freedom of London to have a go. Completely lost his head in the dying embers of a ferocious first-half and needed opposition players to pull him away from further trouble. Inexperience and naivety was on full display unfortunately and it was the right call from Pochettino to pull him out at the interval.
Moises Caicedo – 6/10
Had an howitzer ruled out which would have endeared himself to the travelling Chelsea faithful in some style. Really mucked in with some solid defending when the Blues’ backs were against the wall early.
Enzo Fernandez – 5/10
The Argentine was well off it on this occasion. Sloppy in possession and looked ragged up against a spritely Spurs midfield unit.
Conor Gallagher – 8/10
Battled hard with some good passing, putting pressure on the hosts and keeping them expending their energy. Got an assist in the dying embers for his troubles.
Cole Palmer – 9/10
While his peers seemed like they were sleeping from the first whistle, this livewire seemed the only outlet switched on. His calmness under the sheer Spurs siege in the first ten minutes was supremely impressive, as it was from twelve yards too. Essentially Chelsea’s spark, in this game and all others he has started thus far.
Raheem Sterling – 7/10 (90)
A little one-dimensional and lacking in ideas truth be told, but his persistence and pace paid off. Very unselfish to square for Jackson to nab the winner.
Nicolas Jackson – 8/10
Wasted chance after chance like it was going out of fashion – but practice makes perfect. He actually led the line well in terms of bringing others into the game but seemed lacking in any killer instinct to finish chances whatsoever, until he really couldn’t miss when Sterling put it on a plate for him and Spurs had run their course. A hat trick is a hat trick!
Marc Cucurella – 6/10 (45)
Fine enough if lacking a little dynamism.
Mykhailo Mudryk – 5/10 (57)
A generally poor showing from the bench. Perhaps not quite at full fitness but just looked rushed and never really measured. A lightning burst of pace at the very end put paid to that theory, though.
Malo Gusto – N/A (77)
Lesley Ugochuwku – N/A (90)
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