All good things must come to an end and tonight Tottenham put a stop to our record-breaking winning run.
Dele Alli did the damage with two similar headers either side of half-time, and for the first time since September the Blues couldn’t take one of the chances that fell our way, the most presentable nodded wide by Eden Hazard early in the second half.
So the new year starts with defeat, but the Blues remain five points clear at the top of the table and can look to get back on the victory trail when our FA Cup campaign starts on Sunday.
Antonio Conte brought Nemanja Matic and Pedro back in to the starting XI, in place of Cesc Fabregas and Willian, meaning he set out with the same side that began the reverse fixture in November.
For Tottenham, Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele all returned. They lined up with wing-backs as expected.
Matic was the man behind the game’s first clear opening inside five minutes, lofting a high ball through to Hazard who had time and space to line up a shot. On his left, he dragged it wide, though Hugo Lloris did look concerned for a moment.
By the midway point of a half which had been full of tempo, if not quality, it was safe to say Tottenham had edged possession and territory. What they hadn’t done was threaten our goal, at least until Christian Eriksen fired a shot past Courtois’ dive and, thankfully, his right-hand post.
Earlier, Pedro was booked for a late tackle, and then when he and Diego Costa led a counter-attack from a Tottenham corner, the pair got their wires crossed and exchanged words.
When the league’s topscorer had his first clear sight of goal with 35 minutes gone, not far outside the box, he shot well over. Courtois then had to stretch to stop Dier’s header reaching a more dangerous zone. Cahill was booked in the build-up to that chance for a cynical foul, and Victor Wanyama got the same punishment for bringing the breaking Hazard down on halfway a couple of minutes later.
It looked like the teams would be heading to the dressing rooms scoreless, but in the first minute of stoppage time Tottenham took the lead when an unmarked Alli headed Eriksen’s inviting cross beyond Courtois. It was the first effort on target in the game.
The response immediately after the break was positive. Diego Costa called Hugo Lloris into action for the first time with a fierce 20-yard drive, and then Marcos Alonso headed a half-cleared corner back into a dangerous zone. Hazard could only nod the skidding ball wide from close range.
After Victor Moses had an appeal for a penalty waved away – it looked a foul but fractionally outside the box - Alli doubled the hosts’ advantage with a near carbon-copy of his opener. Eriksen swung the cross over and again the England midfielder got between Cesar Azpilicueta and Moses to head past Courtois. It was his sixth goal in three games.
With 25 minutes remaining, Conte introduced Willian for Alonso. Pedro switched to left wing-back, and Willian moved wide right to try and cause the kind of damage he dished out against Stoke.
Understandably, Tottenham started to sit back, invite pressure and try and play on the counter. Fabregas came on for Kante to add some extra creative spark to our work in the final third, but aside from a late David Luiz header that went over, the Blues struggled to break down a resolute rearguard.
Despite the outcome the travelling support - potentially on their last visit to a ground that has often served us well - sung until the final whistle and indeed after it, acknowledgment for the players’ and coaches' formidable efforts during a run that will be remembered for many years to come.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses (Batshuayi 85), Kante (Fabregas 79), Matic, Alonso (Willian 65); Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard.
Unused subs Begovic, Ivanovic, Zouma, Chalobah.
Booked Pedro 18, Cahill 38
Tottenham (3-5-2): Lloris (c), Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Walker, Dembele (Winks 74), Wanyama, Eriksen, Rose, Alli (Sissoko 86), Kane (Son 90+3).
Unused subs Vorm, Wimmer, Trippier, Davies.
Scorer Alli 45+1, 54
Booked Wanyama 40, Alli 45+2, Rose 87
Referee Martin Atkinson