London – Chelsea climbed into the Premier League top six as Thomas Tuchel earned the first major victory of his short time in charge of the Blues with a 1-0 win at Tottenham on Thursday.
Jorginho’s penalty midway through the first-half was scant reward for Chelsea’s dominance on another damaging night for Spurs boss Jose Mourinho against his former club.
Since a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in early December took Tottenham top of the table, they have won just twice in their last 10 league games to not only see hopes of a first league title in 60 years disappear, but their chances of even making the top four rapidly recede.
Spurs now sit eighth, seven points off the Champions League places, and behind Chelsea, who saw fit to make a managerial change last week after a drastic dip in form under Frank Lampard.
Tottenham were again without the injured Harry Kane, but that still did not excuse a complete lack of attacking threat from Mourinho’s men as they failed to score for the second consecutive game.
Timo Werner’s poor form played a major part in Lampard’s dismissal, but the German international is slowly finding his feet under his compatriot and could have scored inside a minute with a looping header that sailed just wide.
Chelsea did not concede a single shot on target to Burnley or Wolves and quickly established complete control of the ball once more with Tottenham happy to sit deep and wait for their chance to counter-attack.
However, Spurs’ defensive resolve was undone on 24 minutes when Eric Dier unnecessarily swept away Werner’s legs from under him inside the box.
Jorginho had missed three penalties already this season, but cut out his usual stutter-step run-up and smashed the ball low past Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham could have gone in level at the break against the run of play when Serge Aurier headed wide from Son Heung-min’s free-kick.
Spurs started the second-half with far better intent to press Chelsea high up the field, but in doing so opened themselves up to some slick passing from Tuchel’s men.
Callum Hudson-Odoi fired a low shot just side before Aurier’s last-ditch tackle denied Werner his first Premier League goal since November.
Mateo Kovacic and Marcos Alonso then fired good chances off target, while Toby Alderweireld nearly scored a spectacular own goal as Lloris stretched to head away his wild attempted backpass.
Despite the absence of Kane, Gareth Bale was again left on the bench for the entire match after failing to make an impact in defeat at Brighton on Sunday in his first league start for nearly three months.
Mourinho introduced Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela instead in a bid to make a breakthrough.
Lamela produced his side’s only shot on target of the game with a long range effort that Edouard Mendy comfortably parried to safety.
Tottenham’s big chance to level came four minutes from time when Carlo Vinicius headed wide Aurier’s cross from point-blank range.
Tuchel cut an animated figure on the touchline as his side failed to make the game safe with a second goal, but let out a satisfied scream of “yes” at full-time after passing his first big test as Chelsea boss with flying colours. — AFP