Lampard cracks whip as Chelsea kick on towards finishing line

Tottenham Hotspur 0 - Chelsea 2

As front-runners from Crisp, the steeplechaser reeled in by Red Rum a generation ago, to Paula Radcliffe can testify, leading the pack is a demanding route to victory, one which can easily turn to shattering defeat. Chelsea, however, insist they are "thriving" in the role. It is, said Frank Lampard after his goals at White Hart Lane secured their sixth successive Premiership win, hugely preferable to chasing.

As front-runners from Crisp, the steeplechaser reeled in by Red Rum a generation ago, to Paula Radcliffe can testify, leading the pack is a demanding route to victory, one which can easily turn to shattering defeat. Chelsea, however, insist they are "thriving" in the role. It is, said Frank Lampard after his goals at White Hart Lane secured their sixth successive Premiership win, hugely preferable to chasing.

Looking back to last season, when Chelsea choked under the pressure of trying to match Arsenal's remorseless march to the title, Lampard said: "It's tough when you keep getting good results, and they keep getting good results. And then when you have a bad result, they still get a good one. Arsenal set the standard last year. We have been doing the same recently and we have to continue if we are going to win the league. With the spirit we've got, and the confidence we've got, there's no reason why we can't."

While Lampard was speaking Arsenal, unbeknown to him, were heading to defeat at Bolton. On a potentially pivotal Saturday all three rivals had testing away fixtures. In the morning Manchester United won their game at Liverpool. Chelsea kept their nerve to match them at Tottenham, but Arsenal cracked at Bolton. That left Chelsea 10 points clear.

"We are not scared of being a few points clear," Lampard said, "we are thriving on it. It's nice to be this far ahead. A lot of the squad have never been in this position before and we are handling it very well. Maybe we will lose. It's then down to how we react to that, but we have the squad to do it. There's a lot of mind games going on. People predicted a blip for Arsenal last year, but it never happened. We'll keep our heads down and try not to have a blip."

With Jose Mourinho ducking out of the press conference, perhaps feeling he had said enough during the week, it was left to Steve Clarke, his assistant, to express an equally confident management view. "It's difficult to look into the future but you can't see a blip coming because we keep playing well," he said. "Week in, week out, the players keep reaching the same level we are asking them to. I'm sure we'll lose a game - I don't know where, I don't know when - but we would have to have a poor run, and the other teams to keep winning, for them to catch us. And maybe we have had our poor run when we lost to Manchester City [in October]. We drew a couple of games heading into that match."

That "poor run" produced eight points from 15. If even that form were repeated to the end of the season Arsenal or United would need to win 12 of their final 15 games to overhaul Chelsea. The leaders do have difficult fixtures ahead, notably at home to Arsenal and at Old Trafford, Goodison Park, the Reebok and St James' Park, but it is hard to see them losing more than a couple of games.

This looked a tricky match, given Spurs had taken 23 from 27 points in a nine-match unbeaten run. But the last time Chelsea lost a league game to Spurs Gary Lineker scored the winner and John Bumstead got Chelsea's consolation.

Spurs began positively, Jermain Defoe worrying Petr Cech with a deflected shot. But the warning signs were there, Didier Drogba chipping just wide after running on to Lampard's pass and Paul Robinson alertly denying Damien Duff on the half-hour. Then came the penalty appeals. Arjen Robben, pushed over by Noe Pamarot after John Terry sent him clear, had his denied but Alexei Smertin, tripped by Ledley King as he met Duff's cross, had his granted. Both were contentious but both, after exhaustive repeat viewing, looked penalties.

One proved enough. Lampard dispatched it and though Spurs pressed Chelsea hard enough to provoke four bookings the visiting defence, last breached six matches ago, never looked like conceding. Instead in injury time it was Robinson who was beaten, Lampard driving in Gudjohnson's cut-back. "They have all the ingredients to be champions," said the Spurs manager Martin Jol admiringly.

Goals: Lampard (40) pen 0-1; Lampard (90) 0-2.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot (Marney, 70), Naybet, King, Edman; Mendes (Yeates, 77), Brown, Carrick, Ziegler (Gardner, 67); Keane, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Kelly.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Johnson, Terry, Gallas, Ferreira; Smertin (Jarosik, 75), Makelele, Lampard; Duff (Cole, 79), Drogba (Gudjohnsen, 73), Robben. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bridge.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Tottenham Hotspur Brown. Chelsea Duff, Johnson, Terry, Makelele.

Man of the match: Lampard.

Attendance: 36,105.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all