Samuel Eto'o Hits 300 Goals as Chelsea Strengthen Their Title Charge

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2014

Associated Press

There's a saying that history repeats itself—first as tragedy, second as farce. And so it proved for Tottenham Hotspur against Chelsea on Saturday.

It was harsh on Spurs that a Jan Vertonghen slip on 56 minutes gifted Samuel Eto'o his 300th goal in professional football to open the scores, but come the referee's final whistle, further defensive errors were borderline farcical as Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners at Stamford Bridge.

Younes Kaboul saw red moments after Vertonghen's gaff when he was adjudged—somewhat unfairly—to have fouled Eto'o in the box, which left Eden Hazard to confidently dispatch the resulting penalty and double Chelsea's lead.

It got worse at the death, though, with further mistakes from Sandro and Kyle Walker gift-wrapping a brace for substitute Demba Ba, who completed the rout to send Chelsea seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea scores his team's second goal from the penalty spot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris of Spurs during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on March 8, 2014
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

That the Blues were hardly good value for such a convincing scoreline will not concern Jose Mourinho, of course.

The Chelsea manager saw his team get largely outplayed in the first half, but like all good sides, they stuck to their game plan and eventually ground out a result.

He still remains adamant Chelsea are not favorites to lift the Premier League trophy this season, however.

"No way [are Chelsea favorites]," he said to Sky Sports in his post-match interview. "If Man City wins their three matches in hand, we are second and not first."

He continued: "From now, objective No. 1 in the Premier League is the top three. If during the last nine matches we feel our distance to the fourth [placed team] is big, I will say in this moment we think a little bit more [about the title]."

It's true: While Chelsea physically occupy the top spot, City can take over on goal difference. But ask any manager what position they would prefer: points on the board or games in hand? The answer will always be the same.

He is trying—give him thatyet Mourinho isn't fooling anyone. Chelsea are in control of this title race, with Saturday's victory confirmation of just that, if ever it was needed.

Playing scintillating football or scrapping for a victory, it doesn't matter: Mourinho's team keeps racking up the points, and those chasing them will feel a significant psychological weight when they look at the table and see the gap that has formed.

Also speaking to Sky Sports, captain John Terry said, "We're not playing at our best, but we're grinding out results."

That is what champions do, and right now there isn't a better team in England at doing it than Chelsea.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

What is impressive about this Chelsea team is that for all the hype surrounding individuals such as Hazard, there are so many others who are playing their part in the hunt for honors.

Last week against Fulham, Andre Schurrle made the headlines, and on Saturday, Eto'o seized his opportunity. Not only did he score the opening goal, he won the penalty for Hazard just two minutes later and sent Chelsea on their way to three points.

"I told him, 'Today you are going to score, for sure,'" Mourinho revealed when explaining his pre-match speech to Eto'o after Fernando Torres was injured in the warm-up, which threw the Cameroonian into the starting XI at short notice.

Eto'o's celebration was as equally impressive as his anticipation to capitalize on Vertonghen's error. He mimicked an old man, using the corner flag as a walking stick to make light of recent questions surrounding his age.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

Coincidentally, it's his birthday on Monday, and Mourinho was quick to explain he's fully aware of how old he will be.

"I think now he is 33," he said with a smile.

The Chelsea boss has every reason to be grinning right now and was also complimentary of the way his striker has dealt with the media attention.

"His goal celebration was fantastic," he continued. "It is amazing the way he copes with the situation that has happened in the last couple of weeks."

What's also amazing is Mourinho's refusal to mark his team as title favorites. If he won't, however, we will do it for him. From here on until the end of May, we expect nothing less than a Premier League victory parade along the King's Road.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes