Chelsea returned to winning ways by easing past London rivals Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
Thomas Tuchel’s side, who had lost to Manchester City and drawn with Brighton in their last two matches, ran out comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva. Tottenham, in contrast, had few clear-cut chances and did little to trouble Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea were looking to keep up with second-placed Liverpool, following the Reds’ 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace earlier in the day. Tottenham, meanwhile, had the opportunity to enter the top four with a win, which would see them overtake West Ham and Manchester United.
Tuchel made two changes as Malang Sarr and Mateo Kovacic came in for Marcos Alonso and N’Golo Kante.
Steven Bergwijn’s heroic two-goal performance against Leicester in midweek saw the winger keep his place in Antonio Conte’s team. Matt Doherty, Eric Dier and Ryan Sessegnon were also given starts for Tottenham.
VAR was in action shortly before the 20-minute mark after Doherty caught Sarr on his ankle. There was no malice in the tackle though and the referee soon restarted the match.
The all-London clash then began to heat up as several challenges went in.
Romelu Lukaku had a great chance to open the scoring with 32 minutes gone. Ziyech and Mason Mount linked up well on the right flank, before the Englishman sent a dangerous cross into the box. Lukaku was in the right place but could only swing and miss the ball completely with his right.
Harry Kane thought he had given Tottenham the lead five minutes before the break. Sessegnon sent a cross into Kane’s path and the striker turned away from Silva before slotting past Arrizabalaga. But it was ruled out as the referee saw a slight push from Kane on Brazilian veteran Silva.
Chelsea broke the deadlock shortly after the start of the second half. Callum Hudson-Odoi sprinted down the left and passed to Ziyech just outside the box. The 28-year-old proceeded to send a delightful curling effort into the far corner, giving Hugo Lloris absolutely no chance.
Hakim Ziyech, take a bow! 🔥
The Chelsea man cuts in on his left foot and guides his shot past a rooted Hugo Lloris to give the hosts the lead! pic.twitter.com/uxyMWXzZpJ
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 23, 2022
Ziyech, who is not at the Africa Cup of Nations after falling out with Morocco’s head coach, had another chance just moments later. The ball fell to him in the box and he aimed a powerful shot at goal but Lloris was equal to it.
A free-kick then came in from England international Mount and Silva made a connection to give Chelsea a two-goal cushion.
Conte, coming up against his former club, took to the bench in an attempt to get a goal back. Lucas Moura came on for Sessegnon, while Oliver Skipp replaced Japhet Tanganga.
Ziyech was in full flow after his goal and tried his luck with a few more long-range efforts. However, the former Ajax man was unable to recreate that magic.
Chelsea star bursts into life but goal eludes him
Lukaku then burst into life by turning away from his marker, Davinson Sanchez, to get a sight at goal. The Belgian hit a powerful strike but could not beat Lloris.
Tuchel demonstrated his exceptional midfield options in the 73rd minute. Kante replaced Jorginho in a bid to see out the victory.
Spurs pushed for a much-needed goal and Kane brought a save from Arrizabalaga in the final stages when he headed on a corner. But they ultimately could not trouble their opponents and the London derby ended 2-0.
The result puts Chelsea just one point behind Liverpool, although they are still 10 off leaders City. Spurs remain in seventh place, two points off the Champions League places. One positive for Conte is that they have games in hand over West Ham, Manchester United and Arsenal.