Chelsea took another significant step towards the Premier League title with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The win maintains the Blues’ position at the top of the table and moves them to 66 points from their 29 games, seven points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal (who have each played 28 games), with Manchester City two points further back. But Jose Mourinho is still insisting it is Manuel Pellegrini’s City who are favourites for the title as they have three games in hand on Chelsea and a better goal difference.
Clearly the Special One is trying to relieve any pressure his players might start to feel and there is no doubt he would rather have the points on the board than games in hand (despite him insisting on the contrary view). And the latest victory will give the Pensioners a massive boost as we edge towards the climax of the Premier League season.
It didn’t always look like a match from which Chelsea would get both the three points and a healthy boost to their goal difference as, after a fairly even first half, it was goalless at the break. The deadlock was broken soon after however when Jan Vertonghen slipped and managed only to play the ball into the path of Samuel Eto’o in the 56th minute, who slotted home for the opener. Eto’o was only on the pitch because Fernando Torres sustained an injury in the warm up, and the Cameroonian looked sprightly up top – and he made light of recent jibes about his age from his boss by celebrating his goal like a decrepit old man at the corner flag.
Chelsea found some rhythm after their goal, and when Eto’o was adjudged to have been shoved over in the box by Younes Kaboul, Eden Hazard made no mistake from the spot. Kaboul was also shown a red card for the foul, which was perhaps a little harsh given there were other defenders around who might well have snuffed out the chance.
Demba Ba – who replaced Eto’o in the 76th minute – took just over 10 minutes to make an impact when he pounced on a mistake by Sandro to make it three and Spurs looked spent. There was worse to follow for Tim Sherwood’s men, however, as Kyle Walker tried to head goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’s clearance back to him, only to play it straight to Ba, who gratefully accepted the gift to make it 4-0.
After the match, Spurs’ rookie boss Sherwood all but admitted his side’s hopes of making it into the Champions League spot were blown, and for the first time in his short tenure he looked visibly angry and frustrated with his players.
Mourinho, meanwhile, was clearly happy with the day’s work which – for once – saw goals from not one but two strikers! If Ba and Eto’o can keep knocking them in, Chelsea have to be the big, big favourites for the Premier League crown, however often the Special One pretends otherwise.