Chelsea marches on. The defending European champions registered their latest shutout win, this time on the road in a London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, 3-0. Chelsea joins Liverpool and Manchester United atop the Premier League table on 13 points, but the Blues are first on a tiebreaker. Next up for Chelsea is Manchester City in a rematch of the 2021 UEFA Champions League final.
Thiago Silva scored on a corner-kick header four minutes after the halftime break and N’Golo Kante saw his shot deflected for a goal less than 10 minutes later to set the Blues on their way. The rest of the affair was an exercise in game management, which Chelsea has perfected under head coach Thomas Tuchel. And Antonio Rudiger added a third for good measure in stoppage time.
Tottenham opened strong and its pressure had Chelsea frazzled to start the match. Giovani Lo Celso missed an incredible early chance in the Chelsea box, Harry Kane saw a dangerous free kick blocked by the wall and Sergio Reguilon led a dangerous break which was defused by excellent Chelsea defending. A sloppy Chelsea could never get in a groove and it led to Tuchel making a key halftime change.
“The first half we were very good,” Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo said after the match. “The first half we competed well and we were the better team pressing high and creating situations. For 50 minutes we held on. After the first goal, the game changed. It became very hard for the boys … The idea was that we clearly needed to start the match really strong and we did it with really good pressing, recovering the ball and creating situations. The plan was to score. There were chances to do it and we didn’t do it. But the first half — fantastic.”
Then at halftime, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel brought on N’Golo Kante, whose introduction as a third midfielder helped tip the balance of play in Chelsea’s favor after a fairly even opening stanza. As soon as the first goal hit the back of the net in the 49th minute, there was a feeling that it would be enough for the visitors to see out the result. The second goal by Kante put the game away and there was no coming back for Spurs, who only had one shot on goal by Harry Kane after going down.
“I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “In general we lacked energy and we lacked to be more relentless in duels, to decide 50-50 balls for us. I had a feeling that we wanted to impress with pure skills, but a game like this in a derby against Tottenham it’s not only skilful play. It’s about winning duels and we lacked energy and we spoke clearly about it at halftime. Second half was a very good performance and a well-deserved win.”
Chelsea played the game without starting goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who could not overcome the knock suffered against Zenit Saint Petersburg in the Champions League. Kepa Arrizabalaga filled in capably for him. American Christian Pulisic also missed the match due to the ankle injury he picked up while on U.S. national team duty.