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Tottenham 2-4 Chelsea: Mata inspires Blues to victory at the Lane

Chelsea continued their impressive start to the season with a 4-2 victory over Tottenham stretching their lead at the top of the Premier League to four points.

Chelsea continued their impressive start to the season with a 4-2 victory over Tottenham stretching their lead at the top of the Premier League to four points.

The visitors were inspired to victory by the magnificent Juan Mata who scored two and assisted another at White Hart Lane as Chelsea took the lead inside 17 minutes through Gary Cahill. Despite dominating the first half the Blues conceded their lead moments into the second period when ex-Blue William Gallas turned in Jan Vertonghen’s pull back and Jermaine Defoe turned the game on its head minutes later to put Spurs ahead.

But the magic of Mata shone through and Chelsea were level just after the hour mark through the little Spaniard, finding parity with the sweetest of strikes from the edge of the area. Mata then put the Blues ahead with a neat finish from close range before laying on for substitute Daniel Sturridge to put the finishing gloss to a fine performance.

Spurs suffered a last minute set-back before kick-off as Wales international Gareth Bale pulled out of the game due to his partner going into labour. Without the wing-wizard, Spurs suffered despite almost taking an early lead. Gallas couldn’t quite turn in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick from a mere six-yards out and on 17 minutes Chelsea’s pressure was rewarded through an unlikely source. A Chelsea corner was only cleared as far as Cahill who showed superb poise and technique to adjust his body to volley home. Despite a deflection, the England defender’s effort was too powerful for Brad Friedel who was left helpless as it thundered past him.

Mata then found himself in plenty of space in a central position and when his initial attempt came back off Friedel, the Spaniard could not react quickly enough as his rebounded effort flew harmlessly over the bar. Spurs had a chance to level through Defoe in the opening 45′ but it was Chelsea’s half and the only surprise was that they only went in at half-time one goal to the good, so impressive was Mata and his supporting cast of Oscar, Ramires and Eden Hazard who played with a seemingly inherent understanding of one another’s movement.

But the first 10 minutes or so after half time can so often change games and ex-Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas must given a special team-talk during the break, as Spurs soon found themselves on level terms. A deep free-kick looked to be going harmlessly out of play before the impressive Vertonghen stretched to knock the ball back across goal for Gallas to nod home from close range. Just seven minutes later Spurs took the lead through Defoe whose instinctive finish from close range beat Petr Cech after Aaron Lennon’s dribble and cross-come-shot.

It was a miraculous turn-around from the home side who appeared down and out after a sluggish first half showing and struggled for any real rhythm in the absence of Bale and the injured Scott Parker and Moussa Dembele. However Spurs’ second half blitz was soon confined to the history books as the Mata-inspired Chelsea restored parity on 66 minutes. Gallas could only clear a Chelsea cross as far as Mata who controlled instantly and finished low to Friedel’s left; a clean strike expertly executed.

And the pendulum that was this 90 minutes of football did swing again in Chelsea’s favour as Mata received a perfectly weighted diagonal ball from Hazard and made the finish look simple as he sent Friedel the wrong way. It was a fantastic comeback from Roberto Di Matteo’s side who had relinquished the lead to those two early second half goals. This Chelsea team have been described to be in a period of transition as fresh, young faces try and take on the mantel from some older heads (notice the absence of Frank Lampard in the starting XI). But their response to going behind having taken the lead in this game demonstrates that a resilience exists alongside skill and ingenuity.

As for Spurs it was plainly obvious that the absence of a handful of first team regulars damaged their chances of victory here, despite fighting back to claim an, albeit brief lead. Villas-Boas’ team looked weak down the left flank where Bale usually wreaks havoc and the spine of the team was disrupted without the power of Dembele in midfield and the hole left by the rock-steady Kaboul in defence.

The home sides defensive frailties were exposed further in the final minute when Mata- hardly a man of significant physical stature- too easily forced Kyle Walker to surrender the ball in a dangerous position. Mata, who had been in the thick of the action from the first whistle to the last bore down on goal before squaring to substitute Sturridge who had a simple tap in.

It added a gloss that was thoroughly deserved and Blues will have left White Hart Lane knowing their side could have won by a much greater margin, with Fernando Torres going close towards the end. Whilst Spurs will point to the absence of key players for their demise, Chelsea will go back to SW6 revelling in the three points gained through a combination of attacking verve and undoubted team spirit, qualities that will serve them very well in their quest for domestic glory.

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    October 22, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I personally think AVB made a judgment error in not playing our better goalkeeper, Lloris, against a strong attacking team like Chelsea. Friedel would have his turn in our coming match against Southampton.


    October 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Without wishing to blame Bale, I am just wondering whether out of commitment to his team already facing an injury situation and with Dembele not being able to play,he could not have compromised by playing for the first half only and then dash to Wales to be with his partner.Would this have made much of a difference to him but what I do think is that it could have perhaps made an enormous difference to our performance and to our result….

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