Chelsea easily recorded a 2-0 home win over Tottenham on Sunday to keep their slim title hopes alive. Hakim Ziyech put the hosts in the lead just after half-time with a beautiful curling effort from just outside the box. And only eight minutes later they had doubled their lead, with Thiago Silva heading home from a delicious Mason Mount free-kick as the Blues took complete control. Spurs had no response, and their woeful record of just one win at Stamford Bridge since 1990 goes on. Here are five talking points from west London…
Hudson-Odoi stakes his claim
Callum Hudson-Odoi has all the ingredients to become one of the best players in the world in his position.
Yet questions have repeatedly been asked over his end product, with the 21-year-old frequently getting himself in good areas before choosing the wrong option in the past.
But the talented youngster was given a starting berth again by Thomas Tuchel on the left today, and he terrorised Spurs full-back Japhet Tanganga (who it is becoming apparent is not good enough for this level) with his pace and trickery.
It was no surprise to see him play a massive part in the opening goal, with a mazy run leading to him laying it off to Ziyech, who did the rest with a stunning finish.
Chelsea fans (and Gareth Southgate) may just be getting excited over the thought that Hudson-Odoi could be about to reach his peak.
Spurs’ need for reinforcements highlighted
Tottenham’s miraculous last-minute victory against Leicester during the week looks to have very much papered over the cracks that are still prominent in Antonio Conte’s squad.
With the likes of Lucas Moura, Oliver Skipp and Sergio Reguilon carrying niggles, Conte was again forced to put out something of a makeshift starting 11 today, and the tactics seemed more focused on damage limitation than going out and taking the game to Chelsea.
Although they did well to frustrate the Blues in the first-half, it came as no surprise when their defence was eventually breached, and Spurs desperately need more flair and ideas going forward if they are to challenge for a top four place until the end of the campaign.
With just eight days left until the close of the transfer window, Conte will no doubt be demanding more than just Adama Traore, who looks set to arrive from Wolves in the coming days.
A new creative midfielder and centre-back also look essential, and Daniel Levy simply has to pull the chequebook out – or potentially face the disastrous consequences of Conte walking.
Lukaku woes go on
It was yet another frustrating 90 minutes for Romelu Lukaku, who once again looked a shadow of the player that we know he can be.
Things could have been very different had he converted an early chance rather than blazing over the bar.
But from that moment onwards his fragile confidence looked dented again, and Tuchel is facing a huge dilemma over how long he can keep giving his No.9 chances to play himself back into form.
Lukaku’s dream Stamford Bridge homecoming is swiftly becoming a nightmare.
Conte’s faith in Dier
Ever since he has arrived at the club Conte appears to have taken a special shine to Eric Dier.
This afternoon the 28-year-old featured in his first match since New Years’ Day after recovering from injury, slotting straight back into the centre of defence along with Davinson Sanchez.
It was striking to see that Conte chose specifically to pull Dier aside as the teams came out of the tunnel before the game and took a minute or so to give the Englishman special instructions, whispering frantically in his ear.
He was also regularly in communication with Dier throughout the 90 minutes, and he is clearly a player who Conte feels he can trust to get his message across.
He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Dier seems certain to be a key cog in the Italian’s plans going forward.
Three Spurs stars’ fates look sealed
There has been just as much talk about outgoings as there has been about incomings in north London this month.
And given their exclusion from today’s squad, it appears almost certain that Tanguy Ndombele, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso will be moved on before the transfer window slams shut in just over a week’s time.
The first two will come as little surprise, with Ndombele having not featured since his strop against Morecambe in the FA Cup and with Dele having been a peripheral figure on the decline for years now.
Lo Celso appeared more touch-and-go, but after he was left out today the Argentinean took to Instagram ahead of the match, posting: “I would like to clear up that I am 100% in a good physical condition. I have no problem and feel very well. I wish my best to my team in the derby today.”
Such a public declaration is unlikely to go down well with Conte, and if they can find a buyer it looks likely the playmaker will be following Ndombele and Dele out of the door in the coming days.