Tottenham Hotspur fans were singing themselves hoarse as their beloved Lilywhites managed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1990, with goals from Dele Alli (two) and Christian Eriksen ensuring a memorable 3-1 win in an eventful London Derby on Sunday.
The infamous Battle of the Bridge was still fresh on the minds of fans and perhaps, the players, but thankfully the major incidents weren’t the kinds that left a bad taste in your mouth.
Cracking goals and goalkeeping blunders were the highlights of the Premier League’s standout fixture from Matchday 32 which ended with the Blues a glaring eight points adrift of the top-four.
So without further ado, here are the five major talking points from an enthralling fixture at Stamford Bridge:
Brilliant first-half goals or goalkeeping blunders? Take your pick
Chelsea opened the scoring with a well-worked move which started with Antonio Rudiger splitting Spurs open with a precise through ball to Victor Moses and the Nigerian’s pinpoint cross was met by a thumping header from Alvaro Morata (who else?).
While it looks good as you read it, those watching will know that had Hugo Lloris not committed a glaring error, Chelsea might not have scored.
The Spurs custodian came out to collect the cross and got nowhere near it, much to the delight of a gleeful Morata, who then had the simple task of nodding the ball into an empty net.
Loris recovered and made a number of key stops from then on, but better is expected from the France goalkeeper, especially in a high-stakes game such as this.
Thankfully for Lloris, however, Spurs were gifted a way back into the tie when Christian Eriksen was afforded time and space near the edge of the box to let fly and then Willy Caballero promptly sat down as he watched the Dane’s thumping shot crash in off the underside of the crossbar.
While the Dane’s shot did take a vicious dip, a shot-stopper of Caballero’s experience is expected to at least attempt to make the save.
Since the shot was relatively straight, had the Argentine just stood his ground, he might just have saved it.
Remarkably ‘mild’ affair for a London Derby
The aforementioned ‘Battle of the Bridge’ had been discussed in much detail in the build-up to Sunday’s game, but mercifully players from both sides kept their cool this time round.
There was just one yellow card in the whole tie and even Ben Davies’ caution came fairly late, in the 70th minute.
Considering this was a London Derby, it would have seemed strange but it was refreshing change not to see a melee break out at the drop of the hat.
Yes, Erik Lamela was a lucky boy not to get sent off for his unseemly tangle with Cesc Fabregas, but apart from that instance, the football did the talking.
Four goals, a thrilling comeback win, what’s to complain about (Unless of course, you’re a Chelsea fan!)?
No Harry Kane? No problem say Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli
If you had a penny for every time you heard Spurs are a one-man team, your could probably have bought yourself a small island by now.
Harry Kane’s presence in the matchday squad had delighted the Spurs faithful to no end but their initial joy turned to worry as Mauricio Pochettino elected to keep the striker on the bench with Heung-Min Son essaying the role of the false-nine.
And when Alvaro Morata headed the hosts into the lead, a familiar theme seemed to be coming to the fore but Christian Eriksen had other ideas and gave the visitors a lifeline heading into the break.
The second-half began with Chelsea dominant initially but Spurs started to come into their won and it was the divisive figure of Dele Alli who would stamp his authority on the tie with a marvellous goal.
Eric Dier’s clipped ball went over his head and Alli never broke his stride as he brought it down with an immaculate first-touch before lobbing the onrushing Caballero with an exquisite second touch.
And while eventually it wasn’t ‘needed’, Alli got a third for good measure, albeit in scrappy circumstances.
Kane came on in the second-half, but the damage was already done to Chelsea and what a display from Spurs’ terrific duo—Eriksen and Alli—on a momentous night for the North Londoners.
Of course clubs are heavily reliant on their respective talismans, but every now and then they will face a rival with either the icon suspended or injured and what they do then can come to define them.
Alli’s come under a lot of flak of late, strangely enough for his stats are seriously impressive for a 21-year-old, but in Kane’s absence the young Englishman really came into his own to quell the doubters, for now at least.
Top-four race settled then?
Seven games left in the Premier League and Chelsea find themselves eight points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Their remaining fixtures:
West Ham (H), Southampton (A), Burnley (A), Swansea (A), Liverpool (H), Newcastle United (A) and Huddersfield (H).
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, said Chelsea will be fighting till the last game but surely the writing is on the wall?
Spurs are a side full of confidence at the moment and at this point, it is difficult to see them dropping so many points when they have just seven games to play.
Spurs’ remaining fixtures:
Stoke (A), Manchester City (A), Brighton (A), Watford (H), West Bromwich Albion (A), Leicester (H) and Newcastle United (H).
They aren’t in Europe anymore and while they do have the small matter of a FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United looming large towards the end of April, Chelsea are active in the cup competition too and face Southampton in the other semi.
So, is this it?
Well, it sure looks like it, unless Spurs have a meltdown for the ages!
FA Cup sole chance of redemption for Antonio Conte’s men now
Antonio Conte’s moaned about his club’s transfer strategy all season long and while one has to side with him on that, the Italian tactician’s future just got a lot more precarious with their latest setback and he must take some share of the blame.
A tame surrender of their Premier League title wasn’t what Roman Abramovich had in mind and their European run came to an end at the hands of Barcelona to further complicate matters.
Despite their strange moves in the transfer market, the 2017-18 season definitely has been a underwhelming campaign for the Blues and they must now channel their energies solely towards the FA Cup.
A semi-final with Southampton is coming up and the West Londoners are heavy favourites to progress to the final.
Either Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur await them after and while it won’t be easy, nothing worth winning truly is.
A single piece of silverware is poor return considering last season’s stupendous Premier League title triumph but considering Manchester City’s unforeseen dominance, it will definitely lift some of the gloom that has descended on Stamford Bridge.