CHELSEA 0 vs 0 TOTTENHAM Sunday evening’s main four London derby was the tight undertaking many would have anticipated between two in-structure groups, yet without the objectives anticipated from sides who are, with Liverpool, the Premier League’s top scorers.
Chelsea, in the second half particularly, were the better side however without making numerous great possibilities.
The primary half was a wary issue, with Tottenham substance to sit tight for counter-assaults and the Blues resolved to forestall those. We had the ball in the Shed End net off the boot of Timo Werner however that was refused. Edouard Mendy spared from Serge Aurier in Tottenham’s best second before the break.
Chelsea had protected well anyway when called upon, and there was less work to do at the back after the stretch as we figured out how to stick Tottenham back and test for an opening. Bricklayer Mount came the nearest to breaking the stop with a shot spared with 10 minutes to go, and the two sides exchanged misses added time, the game’s dramatization put something aside for the end.
The point leaves us third, two points behind Spurs who move ahead of Liverpool on goal difference.
There were no surprises with the three players Frank Lampard brought back into the team. Hakim Ziyech was restored to the starting line-up and Reece James was at right-back, with N’Golo Kante asked to patrol central midfield. All three had begun on the bench for the midweek Champions League victory in France.
Chelsea against Tottenham is never less than a massive game, but this meeting, even if it was in front of no fans, felt especially important ahead of kick-off with both sides in very good form, on the longest unbeaten runs in the competition, and with top spot in the Premier League the reward for the winners.
Before the main event however, there was a moment to remember the legendary Diego Maradona with a minute’s applause from those who could be inside the stadium today. His visit to Cobham back in 2008 was shown on the video screens.
Sunday afternoon stalemate
What followed in the opening 45 minutes will not live long in the memory however, as the game settled into a very tactical encounter. Both teams managed one shot on target in the first half.
Hakim Ziyech struck a dipping effort from outside the box straight at Hugo Lloris, in an opening in which Chelsea dominated possession without much action in our attacking third. Tottenham looked happy to sit back and wait for their moments to spring forward, one of which came in the ninth minute but that counter-attack ended with Steven Bergwijn scooping his shot over the bar.
It was Chelsea who broke just as sharply two minutes later, with Tammy Abraham carefully releasing Mount, who supplied Timo Werner to the left of him for a superb finish off the far post, but the German had strayed marginally offside.
Tottenham full-back Aurier had slipped to allow Werner space in that attack, but he made a better contribution soon after when he forced Mendy into a save low down to his right.
By the midway point in the first half, possession was closer to being equally shared and Jose Mourinho was likely to have been satisfied with the little threat to his goal so far.
With Blues being kept at arm’s length, Zouma tried a long ball forward which was cut out and suddenly Son and Bergwijn were threatening a breakthrough on the edge of our area. That was a warning that discipline and shape were vital in this derby.
Abraham did as well as anyone to force the issue with a forceful run past white shirts and into the area from out wide. That won a corner and, along with Chilwell shooting well over and Ziyech seeking out Werner with one of his balls to the far post, it was the best we had to show for the remainder of the first half, although in the last few minutes before the whistle there were signs of an increase in the pace of our passing and ability to find some space around the Tottenham penalty area.
Late chances at both ends
With 15 minutes left to play, Christian Pulisic was introduced for his first football of November after injury, with midweek winning-goalscorer Olivier Giroud following soon after, but it was Mount who properly tested Lloris with a well-struck shot that was heading for the bottom corner until the Frenchman intervened.
In the four minutes added time there was agony for both sides as they failed to capitalise on mistakes. It suddenly opened up for Giroud after Joe Rodon dithered but his attempt to chip Lloris lacked height, and then Lo Celso shot wide after a Zouma mistake, and that was that.