Chelsea got back to winning ways in the Premier League in the best possible way, with a comfortable and deserved win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues were on top from the first minute until the last in a vastly improved performance which showed plenty of energy, creativity and determination, recording our fourth win over Spurs this season, and third this month.
However, it took until the second half for us to open the scoring, following a late first-half scare when a Harry Kane goal against the run of play was ruled out for a push on Thiago Silva.
Once Hakim Ziyech put us ahead just two minutes after the break, there never looked likely to be any result other than a Chelsea win, though. And what an opener it was, as the Moroccan got his second goal in as many games from an almost identical position as the one he scored at Brighton, this time curling a pin-point shot across goal and perfectly into the top corner.
We soon doubled our advantage when Thiago Silva met Mason Mount's teasing free-kick with a glancing header which bounced inside the far post, meaning the Brazilian has scored home and away against Spurs in the Premier League this season.
The game finished with the Chelsea fans singing 'can we play you every week' and to be fair it isn't far off at the moment, facing them three times in January and four times this season so far, winning all four without by a combined aggregate score of 8-0.
Kepa Arrizabalaga continued in goal with a back four in front of him again. Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger all retained their places from the midweek draw away at Brighton, but Marcos Alonso made way on the left to be replaced by Malang Sarr.
The other change of our two changes arrived in midfield, where Mateo Kovacic came in for N'Golo Kante to partner Jorginho. Romelu Lukaku started as our central striker, supported by the trio of Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, as we keep the same attacking four for the second game running.
Tottenham made four changes from their last-gasp win over Leicester. Both wing-backs changed, as Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon came into their team, while Eric Dier replaced Oliver Skipp in midfield and Steven Bergwijn partnered Harry Kane after scoring twice from the bench on Wednesday.
There was an early chance for Chelsea inside the first minute as we looked to take the game to our opponents in this London derby, as Mount got the better of his marker on the right and delivered a cross towards the middle, but it bounced awkwardly for Lukaku and he couldn’t keep his half-volley down.
Another opportunity followed soon after from a similar position, this time Ziyech cutting back and crossing with his right. Hudson-Odoi rose to meet it with his head it down at the back post, but the angle was tight and it bounced wide of the near post.
We had come out of the blocks much faster than our opponents, as Ziyech then had a shot from outside the box deflected wide. There was no goal from those chances in the opening minutes, but we had started brightly.
Things weren’t slowing down, with the game being played almost exclusively in Tottenham’s half, and Thiago Silva was the next to have a go as he headed a Mount corner over the bar, followed by Ziyech forcing the first save from Hugo Lloris with another effort from range, but the Frenchman punched it clear of danger.
Spurs responded with their first shot of the game after around 15 minutes, at the end of a rare counter-attack after Kane had tracked back to dispossess Hudson-Odoi, but Kepa was comfortably able to get down and hold Harry Winks’ shot from the edge of the box.
There were a couple of breaks in play as the temperature started to rise on the pitch. First Sarr needed lengthy treatment following a late challenge from behind by Matt Doherty, which left the defender in considerable pain on the floor and replays showed his ankle bending at a sickening angle.
Somehow, Sarr was able to pick himself up and continue, starting his return to the pitch by letting Doherty know exactly what he thought about that challenge, before there was another long break for treatment to Tanganga after he had collided with the advertising boards around the edge of the pitch.
However, despite emotions rising after the challenge on Sarr, those two long break seemed to suck the rhythm out of the game, as things slowed down afterwards and the chances dried up, those inside Stamford Bridge having to wait until the half-hour mark for the game’s next shot.
When it arrived it came from more Chelsea pressure, as first Lukaku couldn’t make the right contact with a low Mount cross and then Hudson-Odoi couldn’t get the bend on his shot as he tried to curl one inside the far post from the edge of the box.
Goalless at the break... just
There was a scare for Chelsea before half-time, though, as Kane put the ball in the back of the net against the run of play. The striker escaped the clutches of Thiago Silva in the box and finished well on the turn, but the referee had spotted a clear push in the back on the German and quickly blew his whistle to disallow the goal and award the Blues a free-kick.
With the exception of a couple more Chelsea headers from set-pieces that went off target, that was the end of the first-half excitement, meaning the teams went in at the break goalless. It was a much-improved performance by the Blues from the midweek draw at Brighton, suggesting the two days off Tuchel had given his players was having the desired effect so far.
Ahead in style
It didn’t take us long after half-time to turn that performance and our resulting dominance into a lead, though, and when the opening goal arrived it was well worth the wait. It all started from another surging run down the left wing by Hudson-Odoi, who had the beating of Tanganga on that side all day. He progressed in-field before playing a pass across the edge of the box to Ziyech.
As soon as he received the ball, there was only one thing on the Moroccan’s mind, as he teed it up on his left foot and curled a brilliant spot towards the far corner, which curled and dipped perfectly inside the angle of post and crossbar with Lloris rooted to the spot.
Ziyech almost got a second from an identical position just moments later, this time opting for power as he drove a first-time shot through a crowded box after the rebound from Mount’s effort had bounced towards, but on this occasion Lloris was able to push it away.
It didn’t take much longer for us to find the second goal, though, and once again it began with good work on the left by Hudson-Odoi. This time he was brought down by Dier, but it didn’t allow Tottenham to escape the danger, as Mount curled a wicked free-kick into the box, inviting Thiago Silva to get the deftest of headers on the cross to redirect it inside the back post.
Tottenham tried to respond by making two substitutions straight after our second goal, but it did little to dampen our momentum, as we continued to dominate and Mount whistled a shot just over the bar, before Lloris denied Hudson-Odoi and Lukaku with good saves.
It was the latter who came the closest to extending our lead even further in those stages of the game, with a clever turn to spin around Dier and make room on his left foot to drill a powerful drive towards the near post, but the height allowed Lloris to get across and get his hands to it.
If anything, Tottenham were perhaps lucky to finish the game only 2-0 down, as Lloris rushed off his line to save from Mount and Azpilicueta’s follow-up was deflected wide of the near post from a tight angle with around 10 minutes remaining.
However, no-one at Chelsea will mind settling for a 2-0 victory over our London rivals, especially as it made it an impressive four wins out of four against Spurs this season, all without conceding a goal ourselves, although it did take a good late save from Kepa to keep out a Kane header and make sure we kept another clean sheet today.
English football now goes on a break, with some non-European nations taking part in international competitions. That means Chelsea's next match will be in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday 5 February, when we host Plymouth Argyle at Stamford Bridge at 12.30pm.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr; Jorginho (Kante 73); Ziyech (Saul 90+1), Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi (Alonso 87); LukakuUnused subs: Bettinelli, Chalobah, Barkley, Havertz, Pulisic, WernerScorer: Ziyech 47, Thiago Silva 55Booked: Thiago Silva 24
Tottenham (4-4-2): Lloris (c); Tanganga (Skipp 56), Dier, Sanchez, Davies; Doherty, Winks (Gil 88), Hojbjerg, Sessegnon (Lucas Moura 56); Kane, BergwijnUnused subs: Gollini, Emerson Royal, Reguilon, Rodon, White, ScarlettBooked: Tanganga 37
Referee: Paul Tierney