LONDON: The pupil outmanoeuvred his old master as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham 2-0 in North London to secure fourth place in the Premier League heading into Christmas.
Tottenham’s embarrassment at being totally outplayed was enhanced by the need for the broadcasting of stadium warnings about racist comments aimed at Chelsea players.
Before the game Lampard had reiterated his admiration for Mourinho under whom he scored so many crucial goals for the Blues. Mourinho had returned the compliments but there was no sentiment spared once the first whistle sounded.
Two goals from Willian ended Chelsea’s disappointing run of two successive league defeats and lifted them six points clear of seventh-placed Spurs. Mourinho’s men are now without a win in 11 league fixtures against opposition from the established top six since they beat Chelsea at Wembley in November 2018.
Chelsea took command from the start and took the lead in the 12th minute through Willian. Spurs’ erratic rightback Serge Aurier allowed the Brazilian time and space to cut from the left and shoot around keeper Paulo Gazzaniga. The goal was especially galling for Spurs’ fans who have never forgiven Willian for turning them down before joining Chelsea in 2013.
Spurs needed 27 minutes before creating their first opening. Mousa Sissoko broke down the right and crossed by captain Harry Kane shot over the bar on the turn. Kane then set up Son Heung-min who shot wildly into the crowd.
Chelsea were pressing Tottenham aggressively but Zouma was too rugged with one challenge on Kane and drew a yellow card. Tempers began to rise. First Sissoko was licky to escape punishment for a late charge into Chelsea keeper Kepa then Dele Alli and Mateo Kovacic were booked for a scuffle off the ball.
Mourinho had never lost a home game against any of his former clubs but that prospect was looming after Chelsea extended their lead in first half stoppage time. Willian converted a penalty after VAR penalised Gazzaniga for a reckless charge into the onrushing Marcos Alonso.
Halftime changes from Mourinho were inevitable. Spurs switched to a back three with Eriksen replacing Eric Dier in midfield. This same switch had turned potential defeat into victory against Olympiacos in the Champions League last month.
This time, however, there was to be no reprieve. Matters went from bad to worse as Son was sent off by referee Anthony Taylor after a VAR review for kicking up into the chest of Rudiger after the players clashed. Son received a reprieve earlier in the season after a red card against Everton but there can be no escape this time.
Chelsea, with Mason Mount outstanding in midfield, continued to play with composure after the game was halted briefly when a missile was thrown from the crowd at Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Referee Taylor twice ordered stadium warning to be broadcast after a complaint of a racist comment being directed at Rudiger and other visiting players.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is back under pressure at Manchester United after a 2-0 defeat at Watford on the first anniversary of his arrival as manager.
A blunder by keeper David de Gea handed Watford their first goal and captain Troy Deeney scored the second from a penalty all in a three-minute spell early in the second half. Watford’s victory was their first under new manager Nigel Pearson after a run of five games without a win.
Solskjaer’s position was the subject of speculation in midweek after Mauricio Pochettino said in midweek that he felt he was now ready for a return to management two months after being sacked by Tottenham. Pochettino has always been considered an ideal ‘United-style’ manager.
United could have advanced significantly up the table with a victory but were instead left languishing in eighth place.
Solskjaer said: “We didn’t deserve to win. We were too slow in possession, too slow without the ball, not enough intensity. They had only two shots on target and one of them a penalty but they took their chances and we didn’t take ours.”
The one positive point for United was the return to action of French World Cup-winning midfielder Paul Pogba for the first time since the end of September.
Solskjaer said: “That’s been the one plus. He added urgency, quality, some great passes. The boy has been working hard. He’s fit and leaner. He’ll bring us a lot. He is important for us. He makes us create more chances.”