Compact, Costa-less Chelsea hold in-form Tottenham

Date published: Sunday 29th November 2015 1:53

Harry Kane: Challenged by Gary Cahill

Harry Kane: Challenged by Gary Cahill

Jose Mourinho dropped Diego Costa to the bench as Chelsea put in a disciplined performance to earn a goalless draw at in-form Tottenham.

Costa was an unused substitute as Jose Mourinho lost patience with the striker, but Chelsea’s second away win of the season remained elusive as Tottenham extended their unbeaten run to 13 games.

Both sides had returned from lengthy European trips, with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino describing the noon kick-off as a “joke” following Thursday night’s 2,500-mile flight from Azerbaijan.

Fluency was lacking in an at-times scrappy contest which lacked moments of real quality.

Hugo Lloris made a fine save to deny Eden Hazard a first goal of the season after Son Heung-min had spurned the best opportunity of the first half following Harry Kane’s cross.

Diego Costa: Left on the bench

Mourinho will be grateful for a fourth Premier League clean sheet of the season, particularly in the absence of captain John Terry (ankle) and at a venue where Chelsea lost 5-3 on New Year’s Day.

That defeat drew Manchester City level with the Blues at the top of the table, but Chelsea won the title at a canter with a fine second half of the season.

Mourinho’s men are now 14 points behind leaders City and need an unprecedented run just to break into the European places.

Spurs’ unbeaten streak, since the opening-day loss at Manchester United, is their longest since a 14-match run between November 1984 and March 1985.

Mourinho says he left out Costa due to low confidence after just four goals this season, but the pair argued in Israel and the manager criticised the striker’s reading of the game on Friday.

Reports continue that Chelsea are looking for a new striker in January – with Kane among those linked – and the speculation is likely to heighten after Costa’s omission.

Hazard, looking for his first goal of the season, was deployed as a “false nine”, with Kurt Zouma replacing Terry, while the suspended Dele Alli was replaced by Ryan Mason for Spurs.

Chelsea’s attacking quartet of Pedro, Willian, Oscar and Hazard caused a host of problems for Spurs with their movement and trickery, but clear-cut chances were hard to come by and Cesc Fabregas’ guile was again curiously absent.

The best early chance was when Oscar crossed for Hazard, who headed just over.

Prior to that Tottenham had come closest to taking the lead.

Danny Rose had crossed towards Kane and Gary Cahill intervened, in the process catching Asmir Begovic on the head.

Begovic next saved Kane’s shot, gathering at the second attempt before Hazard went close.

Pedro’s effort from the edge of the box deflected over and Son lost Branislav Ivanovic to meet Kane’s cross from the right, but headed weakly at Begovic.

Mousa Dembele next had a shot stopped and Son fired over, before Oscar hit the side-netting after beating Mason.

Mason went close to finding a way through the Chelsea defence only to be halted by Zouma as his ankle gave way. Erik Lamela replaced him and returned a pass for Son, who could only shoot at Begovic.

Chelsea were under pressure which was so nearly relieved when Ivanovic’s cross-field pass found Hazard, who struck a first-time volley across Lloris, who made a fine save.

That was as good as it got in a stalemate.

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