For Tottenham Hotspur it was more than just a win. It was retribution. It was for the Battle of the Bridge. It was for forcing Spurs out the Champions League in 2012. It was for pinching Willian, Eden Hazard or Oscar. It was for the past 28 years.
Across 90 minutes in west London Spurs banished those demons once and for all. The last chink of the inferiority complex that remained removed in emphatic fashion.
The 3-1 win was a honest portrayal of Tottenham’s second-half dominance. The opening 45 minutes were close and the 1-1 score at half time a fair reflection, but a chasm in quality opened up in the second period and swallowed Chelsea and their Champions League hopes.
It was a sobering afternoon for the Blues, and one which again puts the future of Antonio Conte in doubt. They, one again, appear a club lacking in direction and stability. Big changes must be made.
But it’s with Spurs that we start the five things we learned from Easter Sunday’s clash.
Spurs can win convincingly without Kane
But Spurs once and for all proved Guardiola wrong. In the most difficult of surroundings they coped without their talisman – yes, he came on in the 74th minute but the game was already won.
1 – Spurs have won at Stamford Bridge for the first time in Premier League history, ending a run of 25 visits without a win there in the competition (the most that one team had played on one ground without a single victory). Snapped. pic.twitter.com/SCfv2coJ2U
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 1, 2018
Chelsea controlled the match for periods but Spurs were always comfortable and dangerous when operating on the break. Despite lacking the presence of Kane, there was enough character about the Spurs team in how they rode out the pressure from the hosts and stood strong.
Spurs have come under fire throughout the years for their perceived lack of bottle but this was another instance of their development as a team.
They may be 20 points off leaders City but it has been another positive season under Pochettino in which the club continues to develop.
Dele Alli never lost it
It’s hardly been a stellar season for Dele Alli, but he popped up at Stamford Bridge and delivered the goods when it mattered.
With the game on a knife-edge, the England international produced one of his trademark darting runs to nip behind the Chelsea’s centre-backs, before bringing down the ball with a deft touch and poking home in one swift movement.
He then showed awareness later in the contest to fire in from close range and secure the points from Spurs.
It was Alli’s first brace since January 2017, which also came against Chelsea, and proves he has the temperament required to shine in the big moments.
It was his 100th appearance in the Premier League and he has been involved in 61 goals in that period, emphasising that along with Kane he’s a vital cornerstone of this Spurs team.
Conte’s Chelsea coffin is closing
No one needed a win inside Stamford Bridge more than Conte, and ultimately as his team have done so often this season, fell short.
It was another nail rammed into the coffin of the Italian, who cut an isolated, hopeless figure over the course of the afternoon. Even his theatre on the touchline was quelled somewhat as he was limited to a brief fist pump.
1 – Chelsea have lost a Premier League home game after opening the scoring for the first time since April 1st 2017, when they lost 2-1 against Crystal Palace. Fools. pic.twitter.com/RJNh6Lob6v
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 1, 2018
Conte seems drained and unable to change the course of a Chelsea season that has badly lost its way. With just five wins from 19 games in 2018, the team is not only lacking confidence but personality too.
A decision on the Italian’s future could’ve been made long ago but it seems keeping him around has made matters worse at Chelsea.
He will almost certainly leave at the end of the season but it’s somewhat torture for everyone involved that this must story must roll on.
Eden Hazard on the periphery again
Chelsea’s poor form has unfortunately slithered into Eden Hazard’s game and the Belgian has suffered as a result.
The attacker had just 58 touches of the ball and, while he produced six key passes over the course of the game, he cut a forlorn, fed-up figure.
If anyone requires a change of outlook it’s Hazard, who needs better support in this Chelsea team to showcase his vast array of skills.
The Belgian by no means had a bad game, but ultimately he needs to be surrounded by more talented players and from there Chelsea can perhaps elevate themselves to another level.
Until then, he will continue to suffer and remain far from the world’s most elite players.
Lamela’s return a huge boost
He has missed a lot of football over the past 18 months and now he’s returned it’s evident how important Erik Lamela is to this Spurs side.
Few players sacrifice themselves more and carry out the orders of Pochettino better. His pressing from the front and movement to take players away from Alli was exceptional and, while he had no direct involvement in any of the goals, his presence was important.
Lamela’s an extremely intelligent player and while a debate rages on over whether it’s him or Son Heung-min who should start, today showed they can co-exist.