Andy Jalil –
LONDON: This eagerly-awaited fixture between two of the top teams produced a goalless draw, for the first time since November 2015, but it was enough to see Spurs lead the Premier League.
Neither they, nor their opponents Chelsea, were prepared to take any chances in maintaining their unbeaten run, with Spurs currently on nine and Chelsea on eight in the league.
Spurs manager Jose Mourinho said: “We came here to win but we didn’t because the opponent defensively was very good. They didn’t take risks, they were solid. They didn’t project many players in attack like they normally do.”
Despite their elevated positions, both managers played down their chances of eventually winning the league and indulged in mind games. They were fully aware of each other’s tactics with Frank Lampard, having been a player under Mourinho during his days as manager at Chelsea.
Mourinho went on to say: “They know how powerful they are and the squad that they have and they know that this is a long season. We are not even in the race. We are not a horse, we’re just a pony. They are one of the biggest contenders, there is no doubt about that.” He added: “The one thing that I take from the game is that a draw here normally is a positive result. To stay top of the league with that result is also positive.”
Lampard immediately countered Mourinho’s claim: “Jose can say how he sees it but, if we are contenders then they have to be. Any team with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in it would expect to be in the race. They had Gareth Bale on the bench and Dele Alli wasn’t even here, so they have plenty of quality in their squad.”
Lampard added: “We dominated large parts of the game and did really well to nullify their counter-attacking threat. It was what we expected from them because we know the style of their manager and how they tend to play. There was only one team trying to win it at the end.”
With Spurs employing defensive tactics throughout and Chelsea to a lesser extent, there were not many shots on target by either side. The number of times there were 11 Spurs jerseys in a defensive third of the field was eye-catching if not surprising. Spurs did miss two early chances when after nine minutes Bergwinj took a pass from Kane but shot over the bar and six minutes later Edouard Mendy saved a ferocious shot by Serge Aurier.
For Chelsea Timo Werner had the ball in the net within ten minutes of the start but was unlucky to be fractionally off-side and later Hugo Lloris had to dive full-length to palm-off a powerful, deflected drive from Mason Mount. Two minutes into injury time a poor back pass to Spur’s goalkeeper gave substitute Olivier Giroud a great chance for a late winner but he lobbed the ball into Lloris’ arms.