A Jorginho penalty, smashed rather than stoked into the Spurs net in the first half, was sufficient for Thomas Tuchel to earn his first away win as Chelsea boss.
On a rainy night in north London, it was no more than the Blues deserved and the result consigned our former manager Jose Mourinho to the first back-to-back home league defeats of his career. It also moved Chelsea above Spurs. We are now sixth, four points off fourth-place Liverpool.
Jorginho ditched his previous little-jump style following recent failures from the penalty spot, scoring after Timo Werner’s sharpness had drawn the foul from Eric Dier. The goal was reward for a first half in which Chelsea had dominated despite making few chances and in the second half, those opportunities came too.
Spurs were thankful for interventions from their captain Hugo Lloris for keeping the score down although they did head wide a late chance to snatch what would have been an undeserved point.
We are yet to concede a goal in the three games in which Tuchel has been in charge. The last Chelsea manager to do that in his first three is Mourinho.
Coming into this game off the back of his first win as Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel made just one change to the side. Reece James had been rated a doubt but the 21-year-old was passed fit and came into the line-up at right wing-back so Callum Hudson-Odoi moved forward to play with Timo Werner in the attack. Tammy Abraham dropped to the bench.
Spurs sit back
Tuchel before the game said his team selection would mean a little change in shape and with Mason Mount mostly in a no.10 role, it meant Hudson-Odoi was playing more or less as a striker with Werner, and within 10 seconds of the start, the German looped a header wide when he got on the end of a long ball.
That would be the closest Chelsea came to finding the target until the opening goal as the game settled into a distinct pattern, and the Blues were making most of the play.
Mendy had one tame shot to deal with in the opening stages and Hudson-Odoi saw one of his deflected well wide, but Tottenham had switched from the back-three of their previous outing, their defeat at Brighton, to a back-four today and they sat deep, allowing Chelsea to play the game largely in the Spurs half.
Penalty with a difference
We were not lacking the ball but there was proving to be little in the way of a goal threat despite a few promising-looking moves.
Thiago Silva took the initiative and tried to get matters going with a long ball from the back and Azpilicueta followed suit a few minutes later, and this time with greater profit as the penalty was won.
Eric Dier tried to cut out the long pass but could not reach it and when he attempted to retrieve the situation while lying down on the soggy turf, he clumsily tangled legs with Werner who had nipped in and the defender gave the spot-kick away.
The game was just beyond the midway point of the first half when Jorginho smashed the ball hard into the net in his new, no-frills way.
That high point for Chelsea was followed 10 minutes later by a low when Thiago Silva was floored by an injury having stretched for a ball. He had to be replaced by Andreas Christensen.
Hudson-Odoi and James were linking well on occasions, their work down the right (with Mount not slow to join them there) looking our best attacking threat, and they did so before half-time for Callum to cross but Spurs cut it out at the near post. Tuchel on the touchline was animated as he wished for the ball to make it further.
Spurs did get the ball into the Chelsea box for the first time for quite a while from a free-kick but although Serge Aurier was first to it, he headed wide. The home side’s occasional attacks were mostly fizzling out before they reached our box. Injured Harry Kane was looking a big miss.
It opens up
Hudson-Odoi dragged a low shot wide early in the second half and on 58 minutes there was a chance to counter-attack, something Spurs had allowed to happen rarely before then. Mount drew defenders and slipped a pass through to Werner but as the no.11 pulled the trigger, Aurier impressively got a boot to the ball to send it for a corner.
That was an escape for Mourinho’s men but there was more space opening up for the Blues to play. Tottenham keeper Lloris back in his goalmouth had to head away a high back-pass from Dier and then reached a dangerous Mount ball just before Christian Pulisic. The American was on for Hudson-Odoi who had had a busy nine days.
Jorginho then ran through a parting Spurs defence but shot wide and when Mount found an opening with a snaking run, Lloris saved well.
We could have been left to rue those misses. Mendy was extended by a shot from greater distance by Erik Lamela with just over 10 minutes to go but our keeper was equal to it, on his way to his 10th Premier League clean sheet.
Carlos Vinicius then headed wastefully wide at the far post, Tottenham’s best chance, before Son snatched at a shot and sent it well over the Chelsea bar close to the end. Despite that late push by the home side to salvage something, it had been a largely solid defensive showing by the visitors who can be pleased with this night’s work.
We have had famous runs of success over Tottenham down the years and with today’s result, our current unbeaten Premier League run against Spurs extends to five games. We have also won consecutive away league matches against them for the first time since a run of three between April 2004 and August 2005. Chelsea have won more Premier League matches against Tottenham than we have against any other team in the competition. The total is now 31.
There will be a second consecutive away game but a much further trip for the Blues as the quick turnaround in fixtures has us back in action on Sunday. Instead of north London it is South Yorkshire for the next Premier League game, with Sheffield United the hosts. The Blades are currently bottom of the table.
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva (Christensen 36), Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic (Kante 74), Alonso; Mount; Hudson-Odoi (Pulisic 65), Werner.
Unused subs Kepa, Chilwell, Emerson, Ziyech, Giroud, Abraham.
Scorer Jorginho 24 pen
Booked Pulisic 79, Kante 81, Azpilicueta 88
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Hojbjerg (Lamela 69), Sissoko; Ndombele (Moura 69), Bergwijn, Son; Vinicius.
Unused subs Hart, Doherty, Tanganga, Rondon, Sanchez, Winks, Bale.
Booked Alderweireld 50, Hojbjerg 63
Referee Andre Marriner