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Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Pedro and Kieran Trippier own goal seal three points for Maurizio Sarri’s side

Perhaps the biggest came after 59 minutes. Chelsea were leading by then, through a well taken goal by the excellent Pedro, playing arguably his best game of the season. Yet, even so, when the board was raised to reveal Willian would be coming on for Eden Hazard, it could have been awkward. 

The fans might not take too kindly to Sarri withdrawing their most gifted player, against such dangerous opponents. Equally, Hazard might not like it, either. But there it was: not a murmur of dissent from the locals, not a flicker of annoyance from the player.  

MATCH FACTS AND STATS

CHELSEA (4-3-2-1): Caballero 6.5; Azpilicueta 7, Rudiger 7, Luiz 7.5, Alonso 7; Kante 7, Jorginho 6.5, Kovacic 6.5 (Loftus-Cheek 77mins); Pedro 8, Hazard 7 (Willian 60, 6); Higuain 6.5 (Giroud 84)

Subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Christensen

Booked: Luiz 

Scorers: Pedro 57, Triipier (og) 84

Manager: Maurizio Sarri 7.5  

 TOTTENHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Lloris 5; Trippier 5, Alderweireld 6, Sanchez 6, Davies 6; Winks 6.5; Sissoko 6.5 (Rose 85), Eriksen 6.5; Lamela 6 (Llorente 70, 6); Son 6.5 (Moura 80), Kane 6.5

Subs not used: Wanyama, Foyth, Gazzaniga, Aurier

Booked: Kane

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 6.5. 

Man of the Match: Pedro 

Referee: Andre Marriner 6.5. 

Hazard marched smartly off, got a passing hug of thanks from Sarri, and gave him a pat on the back in return. Maybe the nadir was also a turning point. Maybe there was more to this than a manager simply deciding to go down doing it his way. 

Maybe the players have acknowledged that the acts of mutiny went too far; maybe the executive management have empowered Sarri in their conversations. 

Certainly, he no longer looked a stooge as Chelsea beat Tottenham, deservedly, administering what is surely the final blow to their title ambitions in the process.

Nine points adrift now, eight points off second place, it would need two teams to collapse for Tottenham to stand a chance of challenging now. Chelsea, meanwhile, are back in the mix for the Champions League spots. They were the better team here; urgent and faster than they have been, a lot nearer to what we have come to understand as Sarri-ball. 

In relegated insubordinate goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to the bench, Sarri also asserted his authority – and was vindicated as Willy Caballero performed competently to keep a clean sheet. Whether Sarri wishes to reinforce the point that mutineers will not be quickly forgiven by keeping faith with Caballero at Fulham on Sunday remains to be seen.

Tottenham were looking for the first home and away league victories over Chelsea since 1971, but that never looked likely. Aside from odd spells, Chelsea had the best of it, and Pedro’s goal capped a quite splendid performance. 

He picked up a ball down the right from Cesar Azpilicueta, cut inside Toby Alderweireld and, as Davinson Sanchez lunged in desperation, stuck the ball through the legs of Hugo Lloris.

If further proof that Sarri’s luck may be changing were needed, in the 84th minute the outcome was confirmed by one of those goals that are as humiliating, as they are damaging.  

Caballero hardly covered himself in glory for that one, putting up a cursory hand of resistance as if confident the shot was going over the bar, only for it to dip dangerously and strike the woodwork. Caballero tried to give off the vibe that he had it covered all the way, but he didn’t. It was a very lucky escape.

Much like Hugo Lloris’s let off at the other end in the 19th minute, when he passed the ball straight to Pedro on the right. He fed it to Eden Hazard in the middle, who laid it back to Gonzalo Higuain. It should have been a goal but the Argentinian curled it wide.

This wasn’t the only time Chelsea’s striker was found wanting from a strong position. In the sixth minute a half clearance from Moussa Sissoko fell to him but he snatched at the shot, sliced across it, and struck a post instead. Azpilicueta also came close after 13 minutes when his shot appeared to hit the arms of Ben Davies on the way to goal. Andre Marriner’s verdict, accidental and unavoidable, although it looked a fair shout from here.

As for the crowd reaction after Sunday’s debacle, it was pretty much as expected. Cabellero received a more favourable reaction to his promotion than would previously have been expected, while boos and the odd, scattered expletive greeted Arrizabalaga’s presence on the bench. 

The fans may not be a Sarri appreciation society, but they recognise the chain of command and that, down the Wembley way, anarchy lies. 

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