Chelsea put away Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final by deservedly beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 to reignite their chances of a top 4 finish.
Pedro’s timely strike along with Kieran Trippier’s comical own goal made sure that the pre-match controversial decision of Head Coach Maurizio Sarri to drop keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga became an afterthought.
In a busy but goalless first-half, both teams had the chance to take the lead but the woodwork denied both through Gonzalo Higuain (post) and Harry Winks (bar) respectively.
Chelsea finally broke the deadlock through Pedro – who had been relatively poor up till then – as he cut in from the right and squeezed an effort through Hugo Lloris’ legs from an angle (57).
Chelsea then sealed the win in comical fashion as Trippier clearly did not see the Spurs’ goalkeeper Hugo Lloris come rushing out and passed the ball past him into an empty net (85), much to the delight of the home fans at Stamford Bridge.
This was a huge night/match overall for Sarri, as many questioned pre-game that this could have his last game in charge of Chelsea if the Blues failed to win this vitally important game.
Thankfully for the Head Coach, his players delivered a big team performance for a vital win in the race for the top four and the insubordination of Kepa from Sunday has become a mere afterthought now.
Chelsea remain sixth in the table but have one game in hand on fourth-placed Arsenal and fifth-placed Manchester United as the Blues get their top 4 hopes back on track.
Possession (%) – Chelsea 47%, Tottenham 53%
Shots – Chelsea 11, Tottenham 9
Shots on Target – Chelsea 1, Tottenham 0
Corners – Chelsea 2, Tottenham 2
Fouls – Chelsea 7, Tottenham 14
Offsides – Chelsea 1, Tottenham 1
Yellow/Red Cards – Chelsea 1/0, Tottenham 1/0
(Bonus Stat) 33 – Chelsea hasn’t lost a single game in which Pedro has scored in. He’s scored in 33 games (36 goals) with Chelsea winning 32 of them and drawing 1.
• Sloppy first half; fantastic second half
• Defensively solid throughout
• Kanté is an absolute machine, starting to run out of words for him
• Thankfully the missed chances in the first-half didn’t cost us
• How many times are we going to the woodwork this season? SERIOUSLY?
• Whisper it quietly… but Sarri got it right. That’ll cause a stir no doubt…
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Caballero – 7, The controversial call pre-match… Caballero paid back the trust shown by Sarri to drop Kepa for him tonight. Always dealt with any potential situation straight away and made sure he stuck to goalkeeping basics. Assured display.
Azpilicueta – 8, Best performance from ‘Mr Consistent’ in the last few weeks. Must share the same lungs as Kante as his work rate tonight considering he played all 120 minutes on Sunday was fantastic.
Rudiger – 7, A quiet but solid performance from the German. Did what he had to do and didn’t put a foot wrong.
David Luiz – 7, Typical display from Luiz. At moments he’s world class, other times he’s average. Thankfully it balanced out to be more good than bad.
Alonso – 7, A very rare solid defensive display from the Spaniard. Haven’t seen that since he signed his 5-year contract. Coincidence?
Kanté – 9, MOTM. I’m simply starting to run out of words for N’Golo. Another magnificent performance from our talismanic Frenchman. Without him, our midfield would be invisible, he is THAT good. And to think certain fans still criticise Sarri because he’s not playing at DM…
Jorginho – 7, Sloppy tonight with his distribution, but was defensively outstanding.
Kovačić – 8, Great performance from the Croatian. With surprisingly no minutes played at Wembley on Sunday, you could tell he had fresh legs as he was everywhere. Worked tremendously hard and was vital with his passing and awareness too.
Pedro – 8, Awful first half, brilliant second half.
Higuaín – 6, Should have had one if not two goals in the first half but thankfully that didn’t come back to haunt us. Clearly still needs to adapt to the pace of English football, but worked as hard as everyone else did.
Hazard – 6, A sluggish performance from our main man, but completely understandable as he was clearly still tired from Sunday’s incredible performance at Wembley. An off-night that will be forgotten about.
Willian (60′ for Hazard) – 6, Came on and offered pressure around the pitch and did enough to help towards a clean sheet.
Loftus-Cheek (77′ for Kovačić) – 6, Another cameo under his belt and many felt he was ready for a much sought after start, but maybe he’s not fully fit yet as his back problems are a constant cause for concern.
Giroud (84′ for Higuaín) – 6, Not enough time to offer anything, but did enough to help cause pressure which lead to the own goal.
Maurizio Sarri – 8 Whisper it quietly but… Sarri made the right choices tonight on the starting line-up. Of course, we all want to see the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek et al start every game as they’re the future of our club. But fair play to Maurizio for being strong in dropping Kepa after his antics on Sunday and trusting others such as Kovacic to get the job done tonight against Tottenham. Which we did, making it ever so sweeter.