Jose Mourinho’s men continued their march toward to the Barclays Premier League title by thrashing Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Samuel Eto’o pounced on a horrendous back-pass from Jan Vertonghen to open the scoring, Eden Hazard added a goal from the penalty spot and Demba Ba came on to bag two late goals to secure the three points.
Although the final score was emphatic, the result was in question for much of the first half.
Jose Mourinho opted to set up his side in a defensive 4-3-3 and allow Tottenham to control possession in first half. His Chelsea side looked to absorb pressure and strike on the counter. Tottenham did little with their share of the ball and rarely looked a threat.
For as little as they accomplished offensively, Spurs did a great job frustrating Chelsea’s rapid forwards. On the break, Eden Hazard rounded Hugo Lloris but could only manage to hit the side netting. A half chance for Eto’o was just about the only opportunity Chelsea could manage to carve out against a well organized Spurs side.
As the teams headed down the tunnel at halftime, Tottenham would have been pleased, minimizing Chelsea’s chances. With their share of possession, perhaps they even thought they might have a chance to end their 24 year drought at Stamford Bridge by nicking a winner. Sherwood would have most certainly been the more happy manager at the interval.
At halftime, Mourinho opted to bring on Oscar for Frank Lampard and Chelsea resumed their more natural 4-2-3-1 shape. Oscar was a spark. The Chelsea attackers began to see more of the ball and began to impose themselves on the Spurs defense.
About 10 minutes after the break, Vertonghen found himself being pressed by Andre Schurrle. He slipped and panicked as the man coming off a hat trick closed him down. His attempted back-pass to Lloris was optimistic at best.
Eto’o was already breaking toward the goal before Vertonghen played the ball. His reward was to squeeze the ball between two pairs of legs and into the back of the net. He ran to the corner flag and hunched over, holding his back. Despite criticism of being too old, Eto’o had no problem being a thorn in Spurs’ side.
Minutes later, Younes Kaboul was adjudged (perhaps harshly) to have brought down Eto’o in the box. Michael Oliver immediately pointed to the spot and showed Kaboul the red card. Hazard stepped up and fired home the ensuing spot kick to give Chelsea breathing space.
Chelsea continued to control the game and make use of their man advantage. The Blues didn’t rest on their laurels as the continued to look for more goals. Hazard missed a chance to set up Eto’o running unmarked into the box in the 75th minute.
Ba came on for Eto’o in the 76th minute and made the most of his minutes which have been hard to come by this season.
In the 88th minute Ba pounced on a failed clearance from Sandro and rifled home from close range. The points were secure and Chelsea fans cheered as the club opened up a seven point gap at the top.
Ba added insult to injury as he bagged his second and Chelsea’s fourth moments later. Kyle Walker attempted to head a looping clearance nearly 30 yards back to his keeper, but it was Ba lurking this time to feast on another defensive collapse. Ba won the ball before Lloris could get there and tapped into an open net.
With Hazard, Eto’o and Schurrle all scoring hat tricks in recent months, with the league’s best defense and with Mourinho at the helm, it looks like the title may be returning to Stamford Bridge in May.