Tottenham only had themselves to blame as Chelsea recorded a resounding 4-0 victory against their London rivals.
A series of defensive howlers settled the game in Chelsea’s favour, with Eto’o, Hazard and Ba the beneficiaries.
It means the Blues are now seven points ahead in the table, albeit having played one game less than Liverpool and three less than Manchester City.
Regardless, Chelsea can only do what is put in front of them and though not a vintage performance, Tottenham sure handed Chelsea gifts.
It was a match that could have ended so differently. Two early chances for Chelsea — first Eto’o within the first minute and Hazard was round the goalkeeper in the fourth minute — went begging, and then for the next 50 minutes, Chelsea had more than met their match defensively, but Tottenham’s high-line held resolutely.
Until Minute 55. Vertonghen’s slip was costly, and the Belgian tried to atone by sticking out a leg to stop Schurrle running on to it, only for it to help Chelsea in the form of Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian is getting on a bit in terms of age, but banged in his 300th club goal with ease, and celebrated humorously by using the corner glad as his walking stick. It was all looking rosy for Chelsea.
And the frustrations certainly disappeared three minutes later. Hazard’s ball to Eto’o was weak, but the 32-year-old held the ball up well and collided with Kaboul, resulting in the Frenchman’s sending off, and Hazard deceiving Lloris from the spot-kick: 2-0.
With a man down, it was damage limitation for Tottenham, who have already suffered heavy defeats this season against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. They managed it until the 87th minute, but two more Chelsea goals were to come in the dying stages, both from substitute Demba Ba.
The 28-year-old Senegalese forward may not get much game-time nowadays but still bagged a brace in his 15-minute cameo, but both were again courtesy of Tottenham howlers, first Sandro slipping at the crucial moment as Ba closed in from point-blank range, and then Ba beating Lloris to a Walker back-pass and slotting home into an empty net. It was buckets and buckets of salt poured into the Tottenham wound.
Man of the Match
SAMUEL ETO’O: The Cameroonian may be 33 years old on Monday but what he may have lost in physique he certainly has made up for in mental strategy and ruthlessness, a term Mourinho calls “cold”. Brutal and unforgiving, the striker read the mistake by Vertonghen quicker than Dawson or Kaboul, and forced the latter to make a second error for the penalty. An enormous handful inside the penalty area, perhaps even Chelsea’s main striker, so it will seem foolish to let him leave in the summer. 8/10
Mourinho was understandably delighted: “The first goal was born in a mistake but it was a mistake that my striker reads in a fantastic way and is cold enough to see the ball through the legs of the keeper. After that I think Spurs felt they had no chance and we controlled the game and scored a few more goals. It was a heavy result I don’t think they deserved, but three points is very important for us and clearly deserved.”
Sherwood was livid with his side: “Lack of characters [is what’s to blame for this capitulation], too many of them too nice to each other and you need to show a bit more guts. It hurts me and I won’t forget about this. It’s not a penalty and not a sending off but the game was finished after that. We let [the fans] down again on the big occasion. You won’t finish in the top four if you don’t beat top teams.”