It was a long time coming, but Spurs have finally beaten Chelsea away from home in the League after 28 years of failed attempts. Not since Gary Lineker scored the winner in 1990 have Tottenham tasted success at Stamford Bridge, but a wonder strike from Christian Eriksen, and two sublime goals from fan favourite Dele Alli was enough for Spurs to take all three points and end the long lasting hoodoo.
Spurs supporters would have been forgiven for thinking that it was going to be the same old story as we approached half time. After initially looking comfortable in the opening stages, Spurs struggled in the final third of the pitch, and had no success in attempting to penetrate the Chelsea back line.
Chelsea on the other hand, played the counter attack well, and after taking the lead through a Morata header, had various chances to extend the lead. Hugo Lloris was at fault for the goal after attempting to beat the Spaniard to the cross, but was unsuccessful, leaving Morata only needing to nod the ball home to take the lead.
Chelsea looked dangerous in the first half, and every time they played the counter, they looked like making something happen. Spurs fans would have had little hope of an equaliser before half time based on their performance in the opening 45 minutes. If a goal was to come, it was going to be from a shot outside the box, and if anyone was going to do that, then it was only ever going to be one man.
Step forward Christian Eriksen. As he has done on so many occasions for Spurs, the Great Dane produced the magic when it was most needed. And what a goal it was. From 25 yards out, and on the stroke of half time, Eriksen produced a sublime effort that no goalkeeper in the world was ever going to save. His pure technique in making the ball dip so much at the last second, truly showed his class, and was enough to ensure that Spurs went into the changing room at half time level.
Supporters would have been delighted to see the scoreline level after an unconvincing first half, but knew that Spurs would have to improve greatly if they were to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The next 45 minutes would determine whether Spurs were truly a changed team, entering a new era success, or whether it would be the same old story of Tottenham promising so much, yet failing when the pressure is on.
Spurs came out in the second half a vastly different team, upping the tempo, and taking the game to Chelsea. Pressing high up the pitch, and taking the battle to Chelsea, Spurs were not going to settle for the point which would see them remain 5 points above Chelsea, and going in to the final stretch of the season with a huge advantage.
Tottenham were looking for more. The players were looking to take the win, not just for the fans and the sense of history surrounding this fixture, but to prove that they are the best team in London. To prove that this is a team with ambitions that go beyond local rivalries, and bragging rights. This is a team that wants to show the world that they are serious, with plans to challenge the oil-rich elite clubs, and to finish as high in the table as possible, and compete regularly for trophies.
Pochetinno has created a team of players that want to win for each other, and his team bonding rituals are well known, resulting in a squad of talented footballers that play as if they are a band of brothers, rather than just colleagues.
It was fitting then that the goal that put Spurs ahead came through a combination involving two players whose “bromance” is well publicised. Eric Dier produced a stunning cross, which was as good as anything you will see all season, which was met by his best friend and teammate Dele Alli, who majestically stroked the ball home.
Dele Alli has his critics, but it is doubtful that many of those critics are Spurs fans. They see him every week, they see what he gives for the team, they know what he is about, and what he can do. Dele is definitely a man for the big stage, scoring vital goals when they are needed the most. Tottenham supporters love his tenacity, and his desire to win.
He has his bad boy image which means he is often disliked by rival supporters, but he is loved by his own, and the way he celebrated in front of the home fans, cupping his hand to his ear to taunt them, is something Spurs fans would have taken great pleasure from.
His persistence to win was evident in his second goal, which would prove to be the winner in this London Derby. Many would have wondered why Son didn’t square the ball when he found himself on goal, but in the form he has been in, and the confidence he has in his own ability, he went for the goal. This is understandable as he has been on fire in recent weeks. With the shot saved, a scramble in the box had both sets of fans on edge. But Dele was like a wild animal looking for the fatal blow to confirm his kill, clearly desiring the ball more than anyone else, and showing his hunger with a tenacious finish.
It is almost laughable that Dele is receiving so much criticism in the media. In his first 100 Premier League games he has scored more than Eden Hazard, and his combined goals and assists a more than Ozil at the same stage.
Dele isn’t the only player that stood out though; Eriksen was immense, Sanchez was solid at the back, and Erik Lamela is reminding fans just how good he is after a long period out through injury. Lamlela is beginning to make himself indispensable, and will give Pochettino a selection headache in the remaining games of the season.
It is a good problem to have, but when Harry returns fully fit and ready to start, the manager will have to pick three of Lamela, Son, Eriksen, and Alli. With Lucas Moura also in the squad now, Spurs will have options that they didn’t have last season.
Lamela has great natural ability, and can produce the magic when it’s needed, but even more vital for Pochettino, is Lamela’s ability to track back and defend, helping his teammates out with defensive duties when required. For a team that presses so high, this is a vital quality to have.
Lamela is more than happy getting stuck in, and being involved in a physical battle. Spurs fans will have enjoyed watching him get the better of players such as Wilshere, and Fabregas in recent weeks. It often looks as if opponents are scared of him, and don’t enjoy the prospect of playing against him. For a team that was often accused of being soft, Lamela is one of the many players at Spurs that are proving that this is no longer the case.
Spurs now sit 8 points above Chelsea in the League with 7 games, and 21 points to play for. They will now be odds on to qualify for the Champions League for the third successive season. Not to mention finishing above Arsenal for the second year running. However, Spurs now have bigger ambitions, and it was comforting to see the way Pochettino spoke to the media after the game.
Although of course happy with the win, it was clear that this was just another game, and another win for the Tottenham Manager. Although it would have meant more for the fans, to Pochettino and his players this was just one step towards something much bigger, which they hope will result in Spurs establishing themselves among the elite in global football.
While there is still a possibility of finishing second, not to mention winning the FA Cup, Spurs will be determined to win the remaining games of the season and finish as strongly as possible. So while fans will enjoy their Easter Weekend knowing that another hoodoo has been broken, the players and coaching staff will be moving on, and looking towards the next game.
How far can this team go? The sky is surely the limit and it is only a matter of time before Spurs are the team to beat. Has this been your favourite game of the season? And is this the turning point for Spurs?Let us know what you think in the comments section below.?