Chelsea and Tottenham shared the spoils in a cautious Saturday lunch-time London derby that really failed to spark to life.
Hazard, the game’s striker with Costa dropped, came closest after the hour-mark but was stopped by a stunning Lloris save, whilst it was their North London counterparts who had the best part of the first-half but for a few key Begovic interventions from Son and Kane.
In the end, it leaves Tottenham in fifth place and Chelsea in 15th, some 11 points off the Top Four, but Mourinho will be pleased to see some defensive doggedness after this fixture last season produced only the second occasion where a Jose Mourinho-led side has shipped in five goals.
Despite Tottenham’s impressive New Year’s Day win, it was in fact their only win in 12 against Chelsea, but the form is very much with them and Chelsea have only won one of the last nine at White Hart Lane. Mourinho himself is without a win in last three visits to N17.
Could Chelsea set the record straight? Not with the opening stages. Tottenham, who had to play in the Europa League on Thursday, showed no signs of fatigue by starting very brightly, either through Kane’s open play, corners or free-kicks.
The best early chance came to Son, who out-jumped Ivanovic to get on the end of a Kane cross, but Begovic did well to sort his feet out to parry away.
The chances did not stop there, with Tottenham afforded many opportunities to run at the Blues. Kane’s drive from 20 yards needed good concentration from Begovic, whilst at the other end, Hazard was feeding off scraps.
The Belgian was preferred to Costa as the striker, with the Belgian and Mourinho in clear disagreement over his position. Hazard had complained about not playing as a central No.10 but, with Mourinho refusing to budge on Oscar getting the coveted central role, he did afford Hazard the central striker role at the expense of Costa. He was yet to deliver.
In fact, Chelsea’s best chance came from Pedro but again the Blues insisted on walking the ball in rather than taking the shot, and with so many passes, the chance was lost.
Hazard should have headed in his first of the league this season when he met Oscar’s floating cross; had that been Costa there, the Spaniard might have scored, but it is debatable whether the former Atletico Madrid man would have even made that small run into the box.
Kane was performing though and his near-post chance was smothered by Cahill, with the next closest defender ironically Hazard, who had been freed from defensive duties for this role.
Two who freed themseelves from any defensive duties were Fabregas and Matic, who parted like the Red Sea in allowing Dembele acres of space to run into and drive towards goal. Begovic was smart to get down low. Moments later, Kane would have another chance, alarmingly free again around the edge of the box.
Chelsea meanwhile were limited to inaccurate crosses from Ivanovic, but whilst they were poor, it was good to see often three blue shirts in the box.
Would the second half need the introduction of a more physical presence like Costa? Mourinho thought not.
Willian had set-piece opportunities either side of the break but the more meaningful chances were Tottenham’s. Mason ran past Azpilicueta and should have squared to Kane to tap in, but opted to cut in and injured himself in the process.
Son had a huge opportunity after working a lovely one-two with Lamela and Zouma was powerless to stop Son’s shot, but thankfully Begovic was.
Hazard’s stunning volley from Ivanovic’s cross deserved the game’s first goal but Lloris made an incredible save low to his left.
Chelsea fashioned another chance but Oscar could not sort his feet out in the box, but it was looking like the spoils would be shared, with Diego Costa petulantly aiming a bib at Jose Mourinho after spending the whole match on the bench.
What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Man of the Match
ASMIR BEGOVIC: With Courtois nearing return, Begovic will need to continue to deliver good performances if he does not fancy being stuck on the bench again, and it was the Bosnian who kept Chelsea in it when Fabregas and Matic, or Cahill and Zouma, parted. Had to be alert to many long-range shots from Kane, whilst had excellent reactions from Son too. 7/10
Mourinho saw progress, however slow, and had words for Costa: “I am more than happy with the performance. I am happy with the team collectively. It was the best Chelsea performance of the season. My players did everything… We had control of the game and had the best chances. My team deserved more than a point. If he (Costa) watched the game with some attention from the bench, he will know what is needed from him.”
Pochettino sensed Chelsea was there for the taking: “Chelsea had only one shot on target, they did not do much to win the game. We deserved more, we tried to win it. I think Chelsea will be happy with the point. It is more important to them than us.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.