Tottenham vs. Chelsea: Scoring the Key Battles
On Saturday, Chelsea traveled across London to earn three points at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham Hotspur came out blazing in the second half, scoring two goals very quickly to take the lead. Chelsea gathered themselves, remained patient and netted three more goals to secure a 4-2 away victory.
Within the larger scope of the match, there are always smaller battles to grade, and Chelsea won most of them, which was the difference in the match.
Tottenham Hotspur Attackers vs. Chelsea Defenders
Jermain Defoe scored his 200th EPL goal on a world-class finish from an errant Aaron Lennon shot. Meanwhile, Lennon made Ashley Cole look scared in defense, which is quite an accomplishment. His pace proved dangerous and it led to both of Spurs' goals.
However, Spurs needed a centre-back to open the scoring and Emmanuel Adebayor didn't change the game too much once he was in. Overall, Chelsea's defenders were able to keep the Spurs attackers (minus Gareth Bale) at bay.
Chelsea Attackers vs. Tottenham Hotspur Defenders
This one is a no-brainer. Chelsea's fluid attack was in full force on Saturday and the Spurs defenders didn't stand much of a chance.
Juan Mata was all over the place, scoring two goals and assisting on another. He was easily the man of the match, but he certainly wasn't alone in the attacking third.
Eden Hazard was good once again, drawing fouls and possessing the ball exceptionally well on the attacking side. Oscar didn't do anything special, but he held the ball up well, as did Fernando Torres. El Nino was pressuring the Tottenham defense, and he forced them to give up possession, not giving them an easy way out of the back.
It was a clinic from the Chelsea front four, and they eventually wore the Spurs defense down.
Defensive Midfield vs. Defensive Midfield
Ramires and Sandro were both pretty good, but they essentially cancelled each other out. As for the other holding midfielders, John Obi Mikel was very good on Saturday; Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore weren't.
Mikel did a good job breaking up play in the middle of the pitch and distributing up the field. None of Spurs' midfielders can say they did the same. Chelsea's attackers ran through space in front of the defenders for most of the day, whereas Tottenham were forced to the outside, leading to more half chances than quality.
Petr Cech vs. Brad Friedel
Brad Freidel didn't play poorly. Although he conceded four goals, the first two were untouchable and the final two hung him out to dry. He made some nice saves, but he couldn't do enough to keep Chelsea's brilliant attack from the back of the net.
Petr Cech, on the other hand, kept Chelsea afloat. Spurs seemed to be having shooting practice in the second half and Cech rose to the occasion more times than not. Late in the match, he made the save of the day, keeping Kyle Walker's long-distance shot out of the net, despite being screened and the ball dipping away from him.
Cech wasn't loads better than Friedel, but he did come up bigger than his American counterpart.
Roberto Di Matteo vs. Andre Villas-Boas
Surely, this match meant a little more to Andre Villas-Boas than it did to Roberto Di Matteo. After last year's fiasco, AVB wanted to show up the Blues, proving that he was better off without them.
Unfortunately, after holding a 2-1 lead, Spurs fell apart. Should AVB have gone defensively earlier? Once they were trailing, should Emmanuel Adebayor have entered the game earlier? Why was Clint Dempsey playing after playing on Tuesday and traveling across the pond?
Villas-Boas didn't seem to answer those questions correctly. Meanwhile, Di Matteo didn't panic when Chelsea were suddenly down in the second half. By not tinkering with his side, RDM made the best decision of the day.
Although Chelsea won each of these battles, this match was not as one-sided as it seems.
Spurs were lethargic in the first half, but Chelsea couldn't put them away. Then, the home side came out firing in the second half, scoring twice within 10 minutes. They seemed faster, and it looked like they would hand Chelsea their first loss of the season.
Then, the Blues refined their attack. Eden Hazard and Juan Mata started shifting, passing and circling a seemingly confused Spurs defense. With those two, as well as Oscar, Torres and the full-backs, Chelsea attacked in waves, finding the net on three occasions in the second half.
It was a back-and-forth game, but Chelsea were the deserved winners.
Spurs were good, but the Blues looked like champions today.