Olivier Giroud proved his worth scoring upon return as Chelsea walked away 2-1 victors over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues extended their unbeaten streak over the visitors to five, amidst a closely fought battle for Champions League qualification.
Olivier Giroud put Chelsea ahead inside the opening 20 minutes with a ferocious strike that nestled past Hugo Lloris at his near post.
Chelsea began the second half with the same intensity of first, as Marcos Alonso doubled the Blues’ lead. In the dying minutes, Erik Lamela’s effort ricocheted off Antonio Rudiger into the net leaving the Blues without another much sought after clean sheet.
Lampard’s brave changes paid off
Chelsea’s all-time top goal scorer, whom was very much aware of the significance of the clash, proved his tactical prowess having made four changes with a new shape. The four new inclusions all played a substantial role in either of the opening two goals.
Giroud made no mistake when handed his opportunity and netted inside the opening 20 minutes. Jorginho executed a perfectly weighted first-time pass in behind to find the on running Giroud.
The 33-year-old’s initial strike was parried to the feet of Ross Barkley, but Chelsea’s number eight acted instinctively. He shot goal-bound but saw his curling effort thunder off the post back to the lurking Giroud. A second bite of the cherry – the veteran striker made no mistake as he arrowed the ball past Lloris at his near post.
Chelsea doubled their lead moments into the second half thanks to newcomers Alonso, Mason Mount, Barkley and Giroud, who all played an integral role for the goal. Lampard’s bravery and changes paid off.
Giroud’s towering header opened the heart of Spurs’ defence, before a sequence of adjacent passes, Eddie Jones would be proud of, found Alonso loitering on the edge of the box.
The Spaniard’s daisy-cutter flung across the face of goal into the bottom corner leaving Lloris helpless.
Rebirth of the back five
The back five was called into action today by the Chelsea boss which has been successful in the past. It has been utilised this season on a number of occasions and proved fruitful once again.
Alonso reinstated that his best position is left wing-back in a back five rather than in a four. Reece James and Rudiger were reliable with little to no qualms, meanwhile Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen looked more comfortable as part of a five in their retrospective positions.
The 20-year-old midfielder proved his importance to the side with his relentless pressing and energy, which ultimately set the tone for Chelsea.
He was integral to how the Blues defended on the front foot which often goes under the radar.
Going forward, when setting up against a typically stronger opponent who will likely look to play out from the back, Mount has demonstrated himself to be in contention for a place in the starting eleven.
The youngster’s pressing was paramount to how the Blues began the game and showed something that was potentially missing against Manchester United.
The significance of the result
Chelsea now sit fourth and four points clear of Spurs in the Premier League behind Leicester City. Sheffield United and Manchester United could go above Mourinho’s side should they win their game in hand.
The Blues and Tottenham each have an equally tough set of upcoming fixtures. Chelsea face just two sides currently in the top ten before the Blades welcome Lampard’s side to the end of April.
Whereas, Mourinho’s men play four teams currently in the top ten before facing Arsenal the weekend Chelsea play Sheffield United.
The race for a top Champions League place is far from over…