The Blues produced a superb performance at the Bridge tonight and secured a crucial victory courtesy of a fine individual effort from Pedro and a comical late own goal by Kieran Trippier.
Chelsea were impressive from the first whistle in a typically well-contested London derby that remained in the balance for the large part.
Both teams struck the woodwork in the first half, Gonzalo Higuain for us very early on. The opening goal tonight was always going to be critical and it was Pedro’s nimble footwork in a tight spot that created the space for him to fire into the net from a tight angle shortly before the hour.
Resolute defending throughout was rewarded by a second clean sheet against top opposition in four days as Tottenham couldn’t muster a shot on target.
In fact Pedro’s was the only such effort because our second goal, with five minutes left, stemmed from a misunderstanding in the visitors’ defence that led to Trippier passing the ball into his own net and not to Hugo Lloris, the intended recipient.
With Arsenal and Man United also winning tonight, the result keeps us in check with them as well as ending a run of two straight league losses to Spurs.
No wonder the Bridge was bouncing at full-time!
Willy Caballero started his first league game of the season with Maurizio Sarri deciding to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga after what happened on Sunday.
There were three other changes to the side that started the Carabao Cup final. Higuain replaced Willian to spearhead the attack, Marcos Alonso returned at left-back, and Mateo Kovacic came in for Ross Barkley.
Tottenham also made a quartet of alterations from their last outing - three of those in defence - and changed shape, too, implementing a back four.
Despite that, the Blues’ intensity with and without the ball in the opening stages meant we engineered plenty of space from where we could threaten the visitors’ backline.
Marcos Alonso had already had a free-kick from a dangerous area blocked when we so nearly took the lead with six minutes played.
A very high Cesar Azpilicueta cross was dealt with badly by Moussa Sissoko and fell into Higuain’s path, 14 yards out. He hit across the ball, but with Hugo Lloris rooted to the spot it agonisingly thumped against the inside of the post and bounced out.
It was the 18th occasion we have struck the woodwork in the league this season, comfortably more than any other team.
By the midway point of the half, By the 10-minute mark tonight, we had already made four successful tackles, to Tottenham’s none. Our start couldn’t have been in starker contrast to the reverse fixture three months ago.
Higuain was given another good sight of goal after a mistake by Lloris. Trying to play out from the back, the goalkeeper succeeded only in passing to Pedro, who in turn found Hazard. He teed up our Argentinean striker who curled a couple of yards wide on his left.
Tottenham began to stem the tide by the midway point of the half, and it needed a superb intervention from Alonso to stop Son Heung-min in his tracks when it looked like the South Korean might get a clear sight of goal.
On the half-hour, David Luiz blocked a Son effort before it could test Caballero. That was shortly after tempers had risen when Harry Kane closed the Brazilian down as Tottenham returned the ball so Trippier could be treated. Kane and Azpilicueta were given a talking to.
That duo were involved in the next meaningful goalmouth action as the interval approached. We had succeeded in keeping Kane relatively quiet, but he worked a yard inside the box and it needed a trademark Azpi block to divert his left-footed strike wide.