Tottenham add to Chelsea woe as Oliver Skipp and Harry Kane goals sink Blues
Chelsea’s winless run extended to six games as Tottenham heaped yet more misery on Graham Potter with a 2-0 win in north London.
Potter’s side went down to second-half goals from Oliver Skipp and Harry Kane in a match where they rarely threatened and, despite a promising first period, visibly crumbled once Spurs took the lead.
Chelsea looked bereft of attacking ideas, and have now scored just a single goal in their last half-dozen outings in all competitions.
Potter’s task of hauling his side back into contention for the Premier League’s top four now looks increasingly insurmountable, with little on display against Tottenham to suggest the club’s huge January transfer outlay is paying off.
The visitors received an early blow when Thiago Silva, back in the side having sat out the defeat to Southampton, was forced off with an injury to his left knee. Potter sent on Wesley Fofana for his second substitute appearance since returning to fitness.
The visitors were the more confident on the ball in the first half, working in neat triangles and playing the game largely in the Spurs half though they were unable to find a final, penetrating pass.
Joao Felix had a fair sight of goal, finding space after driving through the middle and striking his shot firmly but straight at Fraser Forster, as Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal under Potter persisted.
Spurs’ best hope looked like coming on the break, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison showing signs of promise when they were given the chance to run at Chelsea.
It was the home team that had the best chance of the first half. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg collected the ball centrally 20 yards out and drilled an effort at goal that was deflected brilliantly against the post by the sliding leg of Fofana.
Chelsea’s frustrations were all too familiar. Raheem Sterling, their best player in the first half with his penetrating runs down the left, tried to take matters into his own hands, cutting in from the touchline and firing towards Forster’s far corner, the Tottenham goalkeeper diving well to his left to beat the ball away.
The first half ended in confusion and VAR controversy. Hakim Ziyech was late on Richarlison, and as players from both sides squared up to each other the Moroccan appeared to put a hand in the face of Emerson Royal.
A first video check resulted in a red card for Ziyech, but referee Stuart Attwell was then prompted to view the pitch-side monitor and, after reviewing the incident, the red card was rescinded.
The half had produced little to excite either set of supporters, but within seconds of the re-start, the game exploded into life and Tottenham led.
Kulusevski broke into the box down the right and fed the overlapping Royal. His low shot was stopped by Kepa Arrizabalaga, but as the goalkeeper looked to drop onto the loose ball, Enzo Fernandez scooped it out of his grasp, and his weak clearance allowed Skipp to steal in front of Felix and fire Spurs into the lead.
The goal rocked Chelsea, and the confidence in midfield with which they had moved the ball seemed to desert them.
Kai Havertz, standing in again as a makeshift number nine, cut an increasingly frustrated figure, never quite finding the right runs or angles when Chelsea were in possession.
Their problems were thrown into stark relief by the simplicity of Tottenham’s second goal.
A corner whipped in from the right was flicked on neatly by Eric Dier six yards out, dropping at the far post for Kane who had time and space to sweep the ball home.
Substitute Mykhailo Mudryk blasted over from 25 yards five minutes from time, a moment which seemed to announce definitively that Chelsea had run out of ideas.
Soon, they had run out of time. Spurs ran out deserved winners.