Match Report: Chelsea's marvellous musketeers outclass Tottenham to give rise to talk of Premier League title

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 4

While John Terry, confirmed in his position as club captain by Chelsea, is expected to lead the team out for tomorrow's Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk, Frank Lampard can only hope he will be following the leader on to the pitch instead of again making his way to the substitutes' seats.

In Terry's absence at Tottenham on Saturday as his four-match domestic ban began, Lampard would normally have been expected to captain the team. Instead he was left kicking his heels until the start of added time, a victim of the dazzling success of the three midfield musketeers who are helping reinvent Chelsea's game in the manner demanded by the owner, Roman Abramovich. Their manager, Roberto Di Matteo, even preferred the youthful vigour of Ramires as the second holding player alongside the improved Jon Obi Mikel.

There is reason to expect that Lampard will be restored in Donetsk, just as happened in the previous Champions League tie after he had been left out of another big London derby, away to Arsenal, three days earlier. Clearly, however, he must become used to a dramatic increase in his proportion of appearances as a substitute – previously as low as one for every 25 starts – and is likely to give serious consideration to the attractions of Los Angeles, where the Galaxy club would love to reunite him with David Beckham.

Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard have settled in as a trio more quickly than anyone anticipated, including their manager. By using all three in support of Fernando Torres, Di Matteo has been able to bring about Abramovich's desired change of style and image, which has now yielded 20 goals in five games. Three of those matches have been away from home, where Di Matteo says Chelsea now have the ammunition to play the same way as at Stamford Bridge: "What has changed is our attitude. We go away and play with the same attitude we have at home, so we take the initiative, we don't just give it to the opposition. We want to impose ourselves, whether it is away or at home."

There will be home advantage against Manchester United on Sunday and the opportunity to extend the lead over them to seven points. Di Matteo will not be drawn into talk of titles yet, preferring to offer early warning of a "crazy" schedule in December, which includes visiting Japan for Fifa's overblown Club World Cup.

It would only be human of Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas, sacked as Chelsea manager in March, to whistle an occasional chorus of the old standard "It Should Have Been Me". Bravely talking up his own players, he did have to admit of Mata, whom he signed, and last summer's two arrivals: "The trio up front was amazing. The game was won on unbelievable brilliance from Oscar, Mata and Hazard, who can unlock doors. The game is about players and at the moment they're in form. They are playing at a tremendous level and to counter them is extremely difficult."

Spurs managed to do so for only a brief period on either side of half-time. Having fallen behind early on to Gary Cahill's stunning volley, they took the lead through William Gallas and Jermain Defoe, only to be overhauled again as Mata took over, scoring twice and setting up a tap-in for Daniel Sturridge in the last minute.

Villas-Boas could, nevertheless, take consolation from having pushed his old club so hard in the absence of a midfield triumvirate of his own in Gareth Bale, Moussa Dembélé and Scott Parker. "To show that we could compete against the European champions at this level of form is a positive sign," he said, while agreeing that Chelsea's confidence and depth of squad are key factors. "This fluidity they have with those three players behind Fernando is tremendous and you have Moses and Daniel Sturridge on the bench; it looks good. You go into a run of results like they are at the moment, then the more you play the more you believe."

Exactly a year ago, it seemed possible that Villas-Boas's Chelsea side were in the same position, beaten only once in their opening 12 games and having just scored 13 times in the previous three. Then they played a derby away to Queen's Park Rangers, Terry shouted at Anton Ferdinand and things began to fall apart.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Match facts

Spurs: FRIEDEL 6/10, WALKER 6, GALLAS 5, CAULKER 6, VERTONGHEN 6, HUDDLESTONE 5, SANDRO 5, LENNON 7, SIGURDSSON 6, DEMPSEY 5, DEFOE 7

Chelsea: CECH 6, COLE 7, LUIZ 6, CAHILL 7, IVANOVIC 6, HAZARD 8, RAMIRES 7, OSCAR 7, MIKEL 7, MATA 9, TORRES 6

Goals: Tottenham Gallas 47, Defoe 54). Chelsea Cahill 17, Mata 66, 69, Sturridge 90. Subs: Tottenham Livermore 6 (Huddlestone, 67), Adebayor (Dempsey, 74). Chelsea Sturridge (Oscar, 83), Lampard (Hazard, 89). Booked: Tottenham Huddlestone, Gallas, Walker. Chelsea Ivanovic, Ramires. Man of match Mata. Match rating 9/10. Poss: Tottenham 48%. Chelsea 52%. Attempts on target: Tottenham 16. Chelsea 7. Referee M Dean (Cheshire). Attendance 36,060.

Champions League: eye on the opposition

Shakhtar Donetsk continued their 100 per cent start to the league season with a 2-1 victory over Illychivets Mariupol on Friday as they prepared for tomorrow’s visit of Chelsea. Mircea Lucescu’s side have secured victories in all 12 of their games so far this season, although the win over Mariupol may not have been as emphatic as some expected, with second half goals from Taras Stepanenko and Ilsinho eventually showing the Ukrainian champions’ resilience as they came from behind at the Donbass Arena. TOM PARFITT

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
people
News
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us