Chelsea Derail Tottenham Title Hopes

Chelsea scored two second half goals at Stamford Bridge last night in order to halt Tottenham’s chase of Leicester City and hand a first ever league title to the Foxes.

Goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min gave Spurs a 2-0 lead at half-time and gave hope to the London club’s race for the title, with Spurs needing to win their remaining games if they were to have any hope of catching Leicester. They have never won a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, however, with their last victory coming in 1990 when former Leicester striker Gary Lineker scored the winning goal.

The bad-tempered match saw Chelsea come back into the game in the second half after a goal from Gary Cahill gave the Blues hope and a tremendous equaliser from Eden Hazard saw them draw level. The goals came as Spurs lost their cool and ended the match with nine men on yellow cards – the most bookings by a single team during one match in Premier League history.

Leicester City could have had cause for complaint should Spurs have gone on to win the match, with several Tottenham players lucky to escape red cards. Mousa Dembele appeared to try to gouge the eye of Chelsea’s Diego Costa during one first-half fracas that was missed by the officials. There was also a moment involving Danny Rose and Willian that Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino needed to intervene in.

Pochettino felt that the spicy nature of the encounter was actually a compliment from Chelsea, with the physical approach they took representative of the fact that the West Londoners now see Tottenham as genuine rivals. He said, “When you play for the title and play a very big team like Chelsea it is normal to show emotion, but fighting on the pitch is not a good example for both teams”.

Eric Dier was another player lucky to avoid a red card, with several strong challenges only resulting in a single booking from Mark Clattenburg who struggled to keep up with the pace of the game. Chelsea captain John Terry hopes the Football Association bear in mind the emotion of the occasion when they consider retrospective action, however. He said, “Players are fighting for league titles, it’s emotions. It boiled over, let’s not get silly and start banning people. It’s a London derby and the fans want to see it”.

Chelsea fans were delighted to see their side ruin Tottenham’s title hopes after what has been a dreadful season for the defending Premier League champions. They endured their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s, with manager Jose Mourinho sacked in December as the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, bringing in former interim manager Guus Hiddink as his replacement in order to bring some stability to Stamford Bridge.

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas felt that it was the least Chelsea deserved after dominating most of the match, with the Spaniard also suggesting that it was a microcosm of Chelsea’s season as a whole. He said, “It’s a little bit how our season has gone – first half not too good, a little bit too easy. Then a wake-up call and we start performing. It’s a shame because I believe we have a lot of quality in this team and we can do a lot better. They scored two goals because we didn’t defend well enough but I think 70-75% of the game was ours”.

The true winners last night were Leicester City. The Foxes were 5000-1 to win the title at the start of the season, with some bookmakers convinced there was more chance that Elvis was still alive than Claudio Ranieri’s men winning the Premier League. It is the first time since 1978 that a club that had never won the top-flight title has gone on to do so.