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Drogba shows old ruthlessness to wound Tottenham


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The best way, perhaps, to put Tottenham Hotspur’s record at Chelsea into context is that the last time they won at Stamford Bridge was the same day President FW de Klerk announced Nelson Mandela was to be released from prison.

It is 24 years and 10 months since a side managed by Terry Venables came away with a 2-1 victory and their latest defeat was their 28th attempt to break that run.

Mauricio Pochettino is the 15th manager to give it a go and, once again, all Spurs were left with was the now-familiar sense of deja vu that engulfs this rivalry.

This one was classic Tottenham in many ways: starting encouragingly, threatening sporadically to create a story but then playing a considerable part in their own downfall and reminding us of the gulf that exists between a side with authentic title aspirations and one in a game of catch-up.

Chelsea did not play as exhilaratingly as the scoreline suggests but they were the more ruthless, efficient team by some considerable distance and there was an air of inevitability about this win as soon as Eden Hazard and Didier Drogba had scored within three minutes of one another midway through the first half.

Loïc Rémy, a second-half substitute, added a stylish third shortly after replacing Drogba and the Premier League leaders, maintaining their six-point advantage over Manchester City, have equalled their record of 23 successive matches unbeaten, set previously in 2007 and 2009.

Chelsea’s manager, José Mourinho, acclaimed Drogba, who is three months short of his 37th birthday, as “remarkable” and the only downside for Chelsea came in the form of the yellow card that means Nemanja Matic will be suspended from Saturday’s game at Newcastle.

Chelsea-v-Tottenham-Hotsp-009.jpgYet Chelsea, lest it be forgotten, were without Diego Costa, serving his own ban, for their latest victory which came with a haughty shrug from Mourinho.

“No problem,” he said. “Did you remember Diego Costa today? I didn’t. We give confidence to the other people. We don’t cry when somebody cannot play. Diego Costa is already rested and now Nemanja Matic will be rested. No problem.”

Tottenham had actually begun the game as though affronted by the statistics and, as Mourinho volunteered, they “were better than us in the first 20 minutes”. They passed the ball crisply and had a striker, in Harry Kane, who looked capable of troubling Chelsea’s back four.

Yet Spurs cannot expect to defend this generously and get away with it against the side at the top of the league.

Kane could not make the most of either of the two chances that fell for him inside the opening quarter of an hour and it was startling to see the way Spurs crumpled during that period when the game suddenly lurched away from them.

Drogba’s goal was a particularly traumatic one for Spurs to concede given that it came from nothing more elaborate than Hugo Lloris miscuing a routine kick, not even getting the ball to the midway point of his own half and leaving himself hopelessly exposed as Oscar and Hazard set up the man filling in for Costa.

Drogba might not be the player he once was but this was a gift and Lloris took a long time to shake his head clear. There were three other occasions in the first half when he shanked or misplaced clearances from his own penalty area.

Pochettino reflected afterwards about the moment early on when Kane sent a twisting header against the crossbar and, shortly afterwards, when the same player seized on a mistake by the Chelsea and England defender Gary Cahill, drove into the penalty area and flashed a shot across the goalmouth. “The first chance Chelsea created, they scored; the second, they scored again,” the Spurs manager said. “We need to be more clinical because that was the difference.”

What he did not dwell on was the level of self-inflicted damage.

Hazard’s speed and movement makes him a dangerously elusive player but there was nothing particularly original about the one-two with Drogba that created the opening goal.

The problem for Tottenham was that Aaron Lennon had let his man run off him. Vlad Chiriches was out of position and Hazard picked his spot to change the entire complexion of the night.

Cahill’s error might have had something to do with a clash of heads with the Tottenham centre-half Jan Vertonghen in the opening five minutes, leading to the Chelsea centre-half being replaced by Kurt Zouma at half-time.

Kane continued to toil away but there was also the clear sense that the home side were playing within themselves, content to protect their lead and operate from a position of strength.

It was risk-free football from Mourinho’s team in the second half, with Matic and Cesc Fàbregas rarely straying too far forwards until Rémy’s goal settled any lingering nerves, when he ran on to César Azpilicueta’s pass and got the better of Vertonghen inside the penalty area.

Willian was available to his right but Rémy expertly guided the ball past Lloris and the Chelsea machine rolled on.

Written by Daniel Taylor at Stamford Bridge

Taken from The Guardian

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shame ,, I prefer your own reports ..

imo that was by far the best we have seen from the Drog since his return ,, A MASSIVE plus and early Xmas present

I know Ron, I just have no time to write them at the minute (won't be able to do one this weekend either) :(

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