Bridge Banter: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho wrongfoots Tottenham Hopspur
The pundits missed it, but Jose Mourinho cunningly wrong-footed Tottenham last weekend to pave the way for a comfortable Chelsea victory.
It had been a balanced first half with few goal-scoring chances as Spurs and Chelsea cancelled each other out at Stamford Bridge.
If anything, Tottenham shaded it, with the pace of Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon leaving the otherwise impressive Cesar Azpilicueta playing catch-up several times.
At the start of the second half, Mourinho held his players back in the dressing room until Spurs were on the pitch.
Then blue shirts began emerging, and got into position for the restart… but without Frank Lampard, who had played alongside Nemanja Matic ahead of defence in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Referee Michael Oliver looked impatiently at his watch after realising Chelsea were a man short, then in one deft movement Oscar came on for Lampard as the substitute’s board was raised, and the game restarted… before Tim Sherwood had had a chance to re-evaluate tactics.
The reshaped 4-1-4-1 formation gave Matic the space he needed to control midfield on his tod, and multiplied the options he had to feed the ball forward.
Chelsea never looked back. Samuel Eto’o scored after 10 minutes after Jan Vertonghen slipped, tried to clear the ball, and rolled it straight into the striker’s path.
Eto’o partied at the corner flag by holding his back and crouching over like an ancient crone, to Mourinho’s delight.
After the manager’s unguarded jibe about Eto’o’s advancing years, it was the perfect response.
“I didn’t suggest the goal celebration, but I knew it,” said Jose afterwards. “The best way to diffuse the situation is to make fun of the situation.”
Eden Hazard scored from the spot and sub Demba Ba notched two late on as Spurs crumbled.
This weekend Chelsea head to Villa Park before Didier Drogba’s eagerly awaited return with Galatasaray in midweek.
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