Premier League
Chelsea2Tottenham0

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Blues boost top-four hopes as Sarri drops Kepa

Pedro celebrates his goal
Half of Pedro's eight Premier League goals this season have been in London derbies

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga "pay" for his "big mistake" by dropping him before the team cast aside an air of crisis with a thoroughly deserved win over Tottenham.

Sarri left Kepa on the bench following the Spaniard's refusal to be substituted in Sunday's Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City, re-asserting his authority and ensuring speculation about his future will be lifted, for now at least, after this excellent performance and victory.

"It was very easy. Kepa made a big mistake and then paid with the club. In this match he has to pay with the team," Sarri said.

"It was only a message for all the team, the dressing room - we are a team and not 25 individuals. Now it is behind us and Kepa from tomorrow will be with us."

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Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Was Maurizio Sarri wrong to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga?

Tottenham's title hopes, already dented by defeat at Burnley on Saturday, are now surely over after this loss at Stamford Bridge and they must focus on what is an increasingly competitive fight for a top-four place.

Gonzalo Higuain hit the woodwork for Chelsea and Harry Winks had similar misfortune in the first half but Sarri's side saw their endeavour rewarded when Pedro's wriggling run ended with a shot between Hugo Lloris' legs at his near post after 57 minutes.

Harry Kane wasted a good chance to level for Spurs but this damaging loss was sealed in calamitous fashion when Kieran Trippier turned Olivier Giroud's flick past Lloris into his own net with six minutes left.

This was a vital night for Sarri after Kepa's insubordination so this was a victory of huge significance for the Italian on a night when the keeper's replacement Willy Caballero was barely troubled.

Perfect night for Sarri

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Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Dropping Kepa was an easy decision - Sarri

It is not over-stating the case to suggest Maurizio Sarri's job was on the line here against Spurs.

Sarri was already under pressure after Chelsea's fans turned on him during the FA Cup fourth-round loss at home to Manchester United earlier this month and so much good work was totally overshadowed by Kepa's Wembley rebellion that led to the keeper being fined then dropped.

The Italian could not afford any more chaos or defeats and Chelsea delivered for their manager with a fine performance that at least releases the pressure valve slightly and suggests he can still coax performances out of his squad.

Chelsea survived a spell of Spurs pressure just before the interval to fully merit the three points that keeps them in the hunt for the top four.

Sarri even found variety in his substitutions, with the trademark exchange of Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic - which brought ironic cheers and laughter from Chelsea fans during the Manchester United loss - replaced by more imaginative alterations.

Here, Kovacic was replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek while Willian came on for Eden Hazard.

After taking the big decision to bench his errant keeper, Sarri needed a good performance, three points and a show of solidarity from his Chelsea players.

He got all three on a very satisfactory night.

"It was really very important tonight because we're fighting for the top four," said Sarri.

"I don't know but I think maybe with this result we could involve Tottenham in this fight. The gap is very large, seven points, but we have one match [in hand]."

"In this job you are under pressure every week, if you're lucky every six months. It's normal. If you lose two matches, three matches in a row you're under pressure. I think it's normal for every coach, maybe something more in Chelsea."

Spurs' title dream surely over

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Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: We must fight for third place - Pochettino

Spurs needed to respond after the loss at Burnley on Saturday but this was a tired, uninspired performance that surely ends their Premier League title ambitions.

Chelsea had control for most of the match apart from a phase just before the break. Spurs could not maintain momentum after the break and when they had to find a spark after going behind they fell short.

Spurs are nine points behind leaders Liverpool so reality dictates they are now left with a fight for a place in the top four.

Harry Kane failed to fire, missing an opening he would normally snap up, and the closest they came was when Winks rattled the bar.

Trippier's late own goal summed up the night - sloppy, careless, damaging.

Spurs now face a north London derby of increased importance against Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday after the Gunners' 5-1 thrashing of Bournemouth left them only four points behind in fourth. And Manchester United are closing in five points behind in fifth after their win at Crystal Palace.

"In the small details we lose. We made mistakes and lost the game, that is why we are disappointed, we weren't capable of playing our way," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

"The competition will put us in our place. It's a 10-month competition, not just three or four months. After Burnley I said it was difficult, and tonight makes it impossible to fight Man City and Liverpool. Only they can win the league - we must fight to win games and to be fair."

Man of the match - N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

N'Golo Kante runs with the ball
N'Golo Kante worked tirelessly in the midfield for Chelsea, producing more sprints than any other player

Spurs' Stamford Bridge struggles - the stats

  • Chelsea have only lost one of their last 33 home games against Tottenham in all competitions, winning 21 and drawing 11.
  • Tottenham have lost successive Premier League away games for the first time since November 2017 when they lost three in a row.
  • Spurs have lost two league games in five days for the first time since August 2007.
  • Tottenham have scored two own goals in their last six Premier League games, as many as in their previous 113 in the competition.
  • Tottenham have won just three of their 23 Premier League away games against 'big six' sides under Mauricio Pochettino, losing 13.
  • Tottenham have failed to land a shot on target in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2013 against Liverpool.
  • Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta has provided nine assists in the Premier League since the start of last season; only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (13) and Watford's Jose Holebas (10) have recorded more among defenders.
  • Chelsea's Pedro has scored eight Premier League goals this season under Maurizio Sarri. That's double the number he scored last season under Antonio Conte.

What's next?

Tottenham host Arsenal in the north London derby on Saturday (12:30 GMT), while Chelsea travel to Fulham on Sunday (14:05 GMT).

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 13Caballero
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 30David LuizBooked at 90mins
  • 3Alonso
  • 7Kanté
  • 5Jorginho
  • 17KovacicSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 77'minutes
  • 11Pedro
  • 9HiguaínSubstituted forGiroudat 84'minutes
  • 10E HazardSubstituted forWillianat 60'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 8Barkley
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 18Giroud
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 22Willian
  • 27Christensen

Tottenham

  • 1Lloris
  • 2Trippier
  • 6D Sánchez
  • 4Alderweireld
  • 33Davies
  • 17SissokoSubstituted forRoseat 85'minutes
  • 8Winks
  • 11LamelaSubstituted forLlorenteat 70'minutes
  • 23Eriksen
  • 7Son Heung-MinSubstituted forLucas Mouraat 80'minutes
  • 10KaneBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 3Rose
  • 12Wanyama
  • 18Llorente
  • 21Foyth
  • 22Gazzaniga
  • 24Aurier
  • 27Lucas Moura
Referee:
Andre Marriner
Attendance:
40,542

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamTottenham
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home11
Away9
Shots on Target
Home1
Away0
Corners
Home2
Away2
Fouls
Home7
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Chelsea 2, Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Booking

Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

David Luiz (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.

Hand ball by Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).

Foul by Fernando Llorente (Tottenham Hotspur).

César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Pedro (Chelsea).

Substitution

Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Danny Rose replaces Moussa Sissoko.

Goal!

Own Goal by Kieran Trippier, Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea 2, Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Olivier Giroud replaces Gonzalo Higuaín.

Attempt missed. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

Substitution

Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Lucas Moura replaces Son Heung-Min.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Mateo Kovacic.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Davinson Sánchez.

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.

Substitution

Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Fernando Llorente replaces Erik Lamela.

Foul by Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur).

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kieran Trippier with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by David Luiz.

Attempt missed. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ben Davies.

Attempt missed. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) right footed shot from long range on the left misses to the right. Assisted by Willian.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.

Attempt missed. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Harry Kane.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 1, Tottenham Hotspur 0. Pedro (Chelsea) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right to the bottom right corner. Assisted by César Azpilicueta.

Offside, Chelsea. Jorginho tries a through ball, but Gonzalo Higuaín is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

Attempt blocked. Gonzalo Higuaín (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mateo Kovacic.

Second Half

Second Half begins Chelsea 0, Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Half Time

First Half ends, Chelsea 0, Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Harry Kane.

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool28216164154969
2Man City28222475205568
3Tottenham28200855292660
4Arsenal28175660382256
5Man Utd28167555361955
6Chelsea27165647291853
7Wolves28117103535040
8Watford28117103940-140
9Everton28106123939036
10West Ham28106123541-636
11Leicester28105133439-535
12Bournemouth28104143953-1434
13Newcastle2887132634-831
14Crystal Palace2886143238-630
15Burnley2886143150-1930
16Brighton2776142941-1227
17Southampton2869133046-1627
18Cardiff2874172555-3025
19Fulham2845192663-3717
20Huddersfield2835201550-3514
View full Premier League table

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